Opposition PNM wins in a landslide in Tobago

image PNM leader Dr. Keith Rowley described the victory as one for the entire country of Trinidad and Tobago.

SCARBOROUGH, Tobago, Tuesday January 22, 2013 – The main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has won a landslide victory in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), with preliminary results showing that the party has won all 12 seats.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who along with senior members of her coalition People’s Partnership government, had campaigned heavily in support of the Tobago Organisation of the People, (TOP), one of the four partners of the coalition, conceded defeat.

“The people have spoken. This has been a tough political battle and the choice for Tobago between change and a perpetuation of an administration which has been in place for twelve years.

“Tobagonians, in an overwhelming majority chose to stay with the Orville London led THA. And as I have always said, the voice of the people, is the voice of God,” she said in a statement.

Chief Secretary Oville London said he felt humbled by the victory “because of the tremendous trust the people of Tobago have placed in me and my team”.

London, who had complained in the past that Prime Minister Persad Bissessar had been ignoring calls for them to meet to discuss development issues in the sister isle, said that he hoped they would soon meet as “mature leaders” to discuss the relationship between the two countries.

PNM leader Dr. Keith Rowley described the victory as one for the entire country of Trinidad and Tobago.

“It is no easy or mean feat to go for a fourth term…and to end up winning with as clean sweep must say something,” he added.

Political analyst Derek Ramsamooj said that the TOP could become “politically irrelevant to the People’s Partnership government”.

Speaking on television, Ramsamooj said that if a general election is held tomorrow “the TOP would not be seen as being relevant to the government”.

TOP leader Ashworth Jack, the outgoing Minority Leader in the THA, was soundly defeated, polling 645 votes to 1, 259 for relative new comer Sheldon Cunningham.

“I will assess my own future in terms of the politics,” Jack told reporters.

Political observers had regarded the poll as a referendum on the coalition partnership that came to power in May 2010, and has had “several missteps” over the past two and half years in power.

Political commentator Dr. Vanus James said the results had weakened the coalition government and that “this election has taken Jack out of the picture”.

“The leader did not have a coat tail. He could not win his own or even two or more seats based on his strength,” James added.

The PNM had enjoyed an 8-4 majority in the outgoing THA and opinion polls published over the weekend suggest that the party would retain its 12 year hold of the legislative body.

Both the PNM and the Tobago Platform of the People (TPT), headed by former THA Chief Secretary Hochoy Charles, have accused the coalition government of seeking to influence the outcome of the election by introducing legislation to grant further autonomy to Tobago. Charles polled a mere 16 votes and all of the TPT candidates lost their deposits.

Debate on the amendment to the Constitution began last week and Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that it is intended to correct a wrong that has been in existence for more than 100 years.

In her statement, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar told supporters “ do not despair” adding “there is much to be learnt from this and from which strong character can emerge.

“It is a time for introspection and resolve. A time to gather valuable insights that will serve us well in the months and years ahead,” she said.

The coalition government will face another test in May when the Local Government elections are held in Trinidad. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)

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