LET peace prevail.
As Tobagonians go to the polls today to vote for the party that will lead them for the next four years through the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called for peace and a clean and fair election.
The polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. By 10 p.m. it is expected that a winner will be declared.
"I hope that good sense and peace will prevail and all will be well in the democracy," Persad-Bissessar told the Express following a Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) public meeting at Mason Hall on Saturday night.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, in a telephone interview with the Express, also called on the people to peacefully exercise their civic duty.
"The responsibility of every citizen in Tobago, who is properly registered, is to go out and cast your vote and all I would advise the people of Tobago is to vote wisely. To vote is a very important civic duty and I am calling on all Tobagonians to go out and vote. Tomorrow (today) is voting day, come out and vote in your large numbers and everybody should take this opportunity to exercise that right" said Rowley.
For the past few weeks the three political parties contesting the THA election engaged in a gruelling and intense campaign in an attempt to win the favour of the people.
The People's National Movement (PNM), led by THA Chief Secretary Orville London, is seeking to reclaim the power it held in Tobago over the past 12 years, London has been chief secretary for the past three administrations, he is seeking a fourth term.
The TOP led by Ashworth Jack is hoping to unseat the PNM and bring a wave of promised change to Tobago. In the 2010 general election the TOP, as a partner in the Persad-Bissessar-led coalition, was successful in sweeping the two Tobago constituency seats that were previously held by the PNM.
The third party—The Platform for Truth (TPT) is led by Hochoy Charles. Charles is a former chief secretary of the THA.
Election fever gripped Tobago as the parties—mainly the TOP and PNM—expended millions in public advertisements and election paraphernalia in the run up to election day,
Over the weekend there was non stop campaigning as music trucks continuously blared election jingles. Candidates roamed around their electoral districts with loudspeakers urging the people to come out and vote for them, And at nights public meetings were held all over the island.
Hundreds turned out to support the PNM at a rally at the Dwight Yorke stadium while a massive crowd also assembled in Mason Hall to the support the TOP on Saturday night. The TPT has been working the ground quietly with walkabouts and cottage meetings in the various villages and districts.
Yesterday, several trucks decorated with party colours snaked their way throughout the island as both the TOP and the PNM held motorcades—the final hoorah in the energised campaigns.
Political observers have said that today's election is a crucial one as it would be testament of the people's approval of the Persad-Bissessar led administration and also whether the PNM is still politically attractive and has political life to keep the people of Tobago close to their bosom.
Both Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley have been in Tobago over the past few weeks and over the last week they have both been side by side with their teams strongly campaigning for votes.
A total of 36 candidates will be contesting 12 electoral districts in Tobago.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has indicated that all was in place for today's election with some 46,601 people officially registered to vote.
The EBC's, response to questions from the Express also stated that there were no reported incidents from the special voting which took place at the Commission's Stations located at the EBC's Central Electoral Office and Tobago Registration Area Office and ran from 15 to 17 January.