Trinidad opposition leader demands election recount

Port of Spain (AFP)

Trinidad and Tobago’s opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar demanded a recount Tuesday in three key constituencies despite Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s declaration of victory in the general election.

Rowley’s governing People’s National Movement (PNM) took 22 out of 41 seats in the House of Representatives, according to early predictions based on a partial count of Monday’s vote.

Trinidad and Tobago's former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is leader of the opposition United National Congress (UNC), which took 19 seats in the House of Representative
Trinidad and Tobago’s former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is leader of the opposition United National Congress (UNC), which took 19 seats in the House of Representative STR AFP/File

“I know this morning you’re all feeling disillusioned and dejected but please know that all is not lost!” former prime minister Persad Bissessar said on her Facebook page.

“The election result has given us one more seat, and shown tremendous overall gains throughout the country! And most importantly, the battle was so close that we are not officially conceding until we get the results of the recounts we’ve demanded in three key marginal constituencies!”

Her United National Congress (UNC) party took the other 19 seats.

Rowley claimed victory on Monday even as ballots were still being counted.

He had earlier asked supporters to at stay home to celebrate due to the coronavirus pandemic but within hours of pronouncing victory, the streets around his party’s headquarters and victorious candidates’ bases were filled with jubilant supporters.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission has not released official results but said recounts of the ballots in six districts were to begin at 3:00 pm.

The UNC has asked for recounts in five seats, while the sixth seat recount has been called for by Watson Duke, the leader of the minor Progressive Democratic Patriots, whose party attempted to take the two seats on the island of Tobago.

Persad Bissessar had sacked most of her party’s incumbent MPs ahead of the election and brought in several young, previously unknown candidates, one of whom wrestled a seat from the ruling PNM.

She told supporters in her Facebook statement: “Do not be dismayed; do not be defeated! Instead, rest and regroup to fight another day!”

In a reference to the party’s rising sun symbol, she added: “With enduring faith in God and each other, we will get through this difficult period, and sooner, rather than later, I ASSURE YOU, the sun will rise again.”

Politics remains largely divided along ethnic lines in diverse Trinidad and Tobago — a majority of the PNM supporters are of African descent with the UNC popular among those of a South Asian background.

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