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TOBAGO VOTES JAN 21

President announces THA election date

By Elizabeth Williams Tobago Bureau

TOBAGONIANS will head to the polls on January 21, next year to elect politicians who will govern the island for the next four years.

The election date was announced by President George Maxwell Richards yesterday after consultation with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London.

Nomination Day is December 31, where members of the two main political parties, led by London, deputy political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM), and Ashworth Jack, political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People, are expected to submit a full field of candidates to contest the 12 electoral districts to form the administration of the Tobago House of Assembly.

As at the beginning of October, 46,127 people were registered to vote, according to the Election and Boundaries Commission.

London had dissolved the THA on October 25 and made a recommendation for the election date which he hoped would have been accepted by the Prime Minister.

London said he feels prepared and comfortable for the upcoming polls.

"In light of the resources received over the 11 years in office the PNM did well. There is no perfect administration, and regardless of the date, Tobagonians have gotten the message. That is to vote for the PNM," London said.

London said he has some concerns with respect to the upcoming elections, and he intends to meet with officials of the Elections and Boundaries Commission EBC to address those issues. He did not elaborate.

His main political rival, Jack, said he remains confident of a win in the upcoming THA polls.

"The PNM has not given the people of Tobago value for money as several mega projects remain undone, including the Scarborough Library and the Shaw Park Cultural Complex. The PNM has offered nothing new and under the TOP a new direction will be had," Jack said.

Jack boasted that the screening process for 12 candidates was completed for the TOP and names will be announced soon.

He said this fresh batch of candidates will be a mixture of old and new faces, men and women.

Leader of the Platform of Truth Hochoy Charles said the date was expected and was optimistic that his party will win all 12 seats.

He said the TOP are agents of the government, while the PNM are agents of colonialism of their Trinidad PNM counterparts.

"Tobagonians will not vote for backwardness and poverty under the TOP and the PNM. Tobago's oil and gas needs to be protected and we intend to address the matter with the government once we win. If there is no positive feedback we will go to the United Nations on the matter," Charles said.

Tobago has been in an election mode for the past five months with THA Minority Leader Jack launching his campaign in June to lead the Assembly for the next four years.

Jack got the endorsement of the Prime Minister in June when she announced a number of goodies for the sister island, including the appointment of tourism attaches in foreign embassies to market Tobago.

Persad-Bissessar was in Tobago to celebrate the People's Partnership Government's second anniversary celebrations as well as to launch the TOP campaign. She sought to put the island in an election mood as she warned the electorate not to vote blindly in the THA elections.

Since then the People's National Movement-controlled THA has upped its own electioneering, with the party's political leader and Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley leading off several political meetings in Tobago.

There are 12 electoral districts in Tobago: 1. Bacolet/Mount St George 2. Belle Garden/Goodwood 3. Bethel/Mt. Irvine 4. Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden 5. Buccoo/Mount Pleasant 6. Canaan/Bon Accord 7. Lambeau/Signal Hill 8. Parlatuvier/ L'Anse Fourmi/Speyside 9. Plymouth/Golden Lane 10. Providence/ Mason Hall/Moriah 11. Roxborough/Delaford 12. Scarborough/ Calder Hall

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