Former opponents to be screened for Lengua/Indian Walk by-election

PNM candidate for Lengua/Indian Walk Autly Granthume, left, and UNC candidate for Lengua/Indian Walk Nicole Gopaul-Jones. - File photo
PNM candidate for Lengua/Indian Walk Autly Granthume, left, and UNC candidate for Lengua/Indian Walk Nicole Gopaul-Jones. - File photo

FORMER political opponents Autly Granthume and Nicole Gopaul-Jones are expected to be amongst the nominees to be screened by the PNM and UNC respectively to contest a by-election in Lengua/Indian Walk sometime this year.

This was disclosed by PNM and UNC officials on May 10, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At the end of the August 2023 local government elections, no winner was declared in the Lengua/ Indian Walk district, which falls under the UNC-controlled Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC).

The UNC filed a petition on August 21, 2023, after two recounts led to Granthume being announced the winner over Gopaul-Jones on election night, August 14, 2023.

Granthume initially received 1,430 votes compared to Gopaul-Jones’s 1,425. At the end of the first recount, each candidate received 1,428 votes.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission's (EBC) returning officer rejected a special ballot in favour of Gopaul-Jones – which would have broken the tie.

At that time, the EBC said a by-election was needed to resolve the tie.

The UNC's petition called for the rejected special ballot to be counted and Gopaul-Jones to be declared the winner.

In March, the Court of Appeal dismissed the petition. They ruled the election rules under the Representation of the People Act allowed for the rejection of the special ballot.

On May 9, the PNM announced it was opening nominations for candidates for the Lengua/Indian Walk and Morne Diablo/Quinam districts.

A vacancy arose in the latter district after the death of its UNC councillor Diptee Ramnath last December.

Ramnath was also chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation at that time.

In a statement on May 9, PNM general secretary Foster Cummings said the nomination period runs from May 9 to 15, with screening to begin shortly afterwards.

Cummings added that the party is undertaking an exercise that has seen it advance candidates for every election in TT's history.

A PNM official said Granthume is expected to offer himself to contest Lengua/Indian Walk again.

A second PNM official added that he has to undergo the same exercise that all nominees must in these circumstances.

"He must go through the nomination process."

UNC officials expressed a similar position with respect to Gopaul-Jones.

One UNC official said, "We are going back to screening (nominees)."

A second UNC official said Gopaul-Jones and all other nominees for Lengua/Indian Walk will go through the same screening process and the party will make its decision on its candidate for the district in due course.

On May 9, UNC chairman Davendranath Tancoo said the party is doing significant work preparing for these two by-elections and next year's general election.

"As a fully democratic party, we will soon open the nominations for both local government by-election seats and proceed with screening applicants to ensure the best candidate will be selected to represent the burgesses in those areas."

Tancoo said the UNC is confident of winning both by-elections based on the work it has been doing and is doing.


"Former opponents to be screened for Lengua/Indian Walk by-election"

More in this section