PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Keith Rowley has announced August 10 as the date for general elections in Trinidad and Tobago.
Rowley made the announcement in the parliament on Friday.
In the last general elections on September 7. 2015, Rowley led the governing People’s National Movement (PNM) to a 23-18 victory over the then People’s Partnership Administration of Kamla Persad Bissessar but this time around Persad Bissessar is leading the main Opposition United National Congress (UNC) that had been the biggest partner in the coalition that had governed from 2010 to 2015.
The UNC had for several months been calling on Rowley to call early general elections, accusing his Administration of not being able to deal with the economy, crime and other social problems in the dual-island republic.
But political analyst Dr. Winford James said Prime Minister Rowley, by calling the general election, is seeking to take advantage of the popular sentiment that his Administration had done exceedingly well in managing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Eight people died as a result of the pandemic and more than 100 tested positive for the virus that has killed more than half a million people and infected nearly 11 million others worldwide.
The PNM will come up against the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) for the two seats it holds in Tobago.
Both parties have already named their candidates for the seats with the PNM going with incumbents, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Ayanna Webster-Roy and Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, while the PDP will rely on Tashia Grace Burris and its political leader Watson Duke, who is also the minority leader in the Tobago House of Assembly. Duke, a trade unionist, is the president of the Public Service Association.
Rowley has given no indication as to whether or not the social distancing and other measures regarding the congregation of people as a means of curbing the COVID-19 spread will be lifted for the elections.
Three other Caribbean countries, Guyana, St Kitts-Nevis, and Suriname, recently held their elections and did not lift the curfew or other measures in place.
In the last general elections in Trinidad and Tobago, the turnout was just just over 67 per cent.