Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar waves to supporters on her arrival at the United National Congress' party headquarters at Rienzi Complex last night. PHOTO by DAVE PERSAD
AG - UNC still strong
Express reporters and photographers are today covering the ramifications of yesterday's local government election victory by the PNM. You can come back to this article for frequent updates
By Sue-ann Wayow
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said last night that he was pleased with the results of the local government election.
He said the results was confirmation of loyalty to the People's Partnership government and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. He said that in defence of the party " we put up on the moat (and) it was successful."
Speaking at the United National Congress' (UNC) party headquarters
at Rienzi Complex, Couva, where supporters gathered, Ramlogan
said that the party's " jewel in the crown", Siparia remained under the control of the UNC.
Ramlogan said although many thought the local government election would have been a fight between the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and the People's National Movement (PNM), the UNC showed they still had strong support.
He sent a message to ILP's interim leader Jack Warner, his former UNC colleague. He said:" You (Warner) must take some time to reflect to do some introspective analysis.
Have some pause to understand what the political equation is. What message are the people sending?"
Ramlogan said the citizens of Chaguanas were sending a message to Warner that he should not use their vote to destroy the UNC.
Regarding the November 4 St Joseph by-election, Ramlogan said the UNC was " riding high" especially with a candidate
like Ian Alleyne who he said was well loved.
MSJ CONCEDES DEFEAT
THE Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), which fielded twelve candidates in yesterday's Local Government election, failed to come close to winning a single seat. At its party's headquarters at St Joseph Village, San Fernando tonight, MSJ political leader David Abdulah conceded defeat, saying it was his belief that the electorate had gone back to "old politics".
He said people also voted to remove the Peoples Partnership, which lost control of several corporations. Abdulah said "they (the voters) did it in Tobago and they did it again in Chaguanas West".
He said however, that the MSJ was proud in the way it conducted its campaign.
"I think people will agree that we stuck to the issues. We did not have gimmicks, cartoon, and we didn't spend millions of dollars like the others. We were outspent maybe 200 to one with advertising".
Abdulah said "what the country got today was not change. People were voting against one thing, but the MSJ will put this aside and building its party, and work for the peiople, to make an impact in the country".
PP LOSES SAN FERNANDO
THERE will be no second term for San Fernando Mayor Dr Navi Muradali. The Congress of the People (cop) councillor who assumed the position after Marlene Coudray joined Government as a Minister, is a casualty of the Peoples National Movement reclaiming of the San Fernando City Corporation.
In the 2010 local government election, the PNM won only two of the nine electoral districts.Last night, the PNM claimed eight of the nine seats, with the Peoples Partnership only taking the Les Efforts West/Cipero seat by 58 votes. At the PNM's south headquarters at Navet Road, San Fernando, former member of Parliament for San Fernando, and constituency chairman Junia Regrello said the party was ecstatic over the victory.
On the question on who was being considered for the Mayorship, Regrello said a decision would be made at an executive level, and that each electoral area would recommend names.
The Express was told that an early contender is former councillor Kazim Hosein, whose father was a former city mayor.
PNM CLEAN SWEEP IN DIEGO MARTIN
The Peoples National Movement had declared victory in the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, projecting that it will win all ten seats up for grabs. The Corporation was won by the Peoples Partnership in the 2010 local government elections.
THE VOTE COUNTS BEGINS
It's over, and the count has begun.
The country will know in a few hours whether the citizens of Trinidad have given the Peoples Partnership a continuing mandate.
It will also become apparent if the Independent Liberal Party has
been able to duplicate the success of its interim leader Jack Warner, who took the Chaguanas West seat in a by-election
Or if the Peoples National Movement has continued its resurgence
from its landslide victory in the Tobago House of Assembly elections, in January, following resounding defeats in the general and local government elections of 2010.
There were minor issues throughout the day, with some candidates
accused of election day canvassing. Some persons were led away from polling station because they were wearing party jerseys. At several polling stations, voters complained that they were unable to wash the red ink off their fingers.
Some persons could not find their names on the electoral lists, and were turned back at the polling stations. In the region of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation, a mix up led to no police officers being assigned to two schools being used as polling stations. Electors cast ballots throughout the morning unaware of the issue, which was resolved at around noon, when police officers were dispatched.
Voting in the electoral district of Techier/Guapo, and New Lands/Mahaica was suspended an hour before the close of polls, after it was discovered there was a mix up with the ballots.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) will allow voting to resume at two affected polling stations tomorrow, and the winners of those electoral districts will only be known after all the votes are counted at the close of polls at 6p.m on Tuesday.
According to EBC figures, 1,036, 721 persons were eligible to vote.
There were 427 candidates offering themselves on behalf of eight political parties. Several independents were also candidates. Some 136 seats are to be filled in fourteen Corporations.
The 2010 local government election, in which the Peoples Partnership
coalition won 99 of the seats and eleven Corporations, had a 39 per cent voter turn out.
Voting in the electoral district of Techier/Guapo, and New Lands/Mahaica has been suspended with immediate effect.The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) ordered the suspension of voting at around 5 p.m, at Polling Station no 4696 located at the Guapo Government Primary school, Polling Station No 4730, located at the Point Fortin RC Primary School, after it was discovered that a number of electors had voted using the wrong ballot papers.
According to a Peoples National Movement source, two of their candidates in the Point Fortin Borough Corporation, Sherwin St Hillaire (Techier/Guapo) and Janelle St Hillaire (New Lands/Mahaica) had their papers mixed up.
As a result, some person seeking to vote for Sherwin Hillare, found the name of Janelle Hillaire on their ballot papers.
The EBC has launched an investigation. As a result, voting will resume tomorrow, between 6 a.m and 6 p.m at both polling stations. All persons whose name appear on the revised list of electors for the two polling stations will be allowed to vote again, including those who voted before the error was discovered.
The results from these polling stations will not be known until the votes are counted following the close of the polls tomorrow.
RAIN HAMPERS LATE VOTERS
Rainfall swept across parts of the east and north Trinidad this afternoon, complicating plans by late voters to cast their ballots ahead of the 6 p.m deadline. Express Associate Editor Irene Medina, who spent time in the vast area controlled by the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, said she observed many with umbrellas dashing into polling stations this afternoon.
Medina also noted a high number of female voters in a regional that Interim leader of the Independent Liberal Party Jack Warner has promised to take from the Peoples Partnership. The Corporation was chaired by Khadijah Ameen, who was offered as a candidate for the Chaguanas West by-election, and defeated by Warner.
The region has an electorate of 168,339. according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission figures, and spans an area that includes parts of St Joseph (where there is a pending by-election), La Horquetta, Wallerfield, Blanchisseuse, and Santa Rosa. At the Simboonath Capildeo Hindu Primary School, where there are two polling stations, the presiding officer reported, as of 3p.m, a 50 per cent voter turn out. At other polling stations in St Joseph, the voting was slow but steady.
PM - EVERY VOTER WILL WIN
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar this afternoon voted at the Hermitage Presbyterian Primary School. She cast her ballot at around 2.10p.m. The Office of the Prime Minister had issued a statement that she would be voting at 11.30 a.m.
Persad-Bissessar told members of the media "voting has been slow and steady. We tend to get more people coming in after lunch taking their two hours from work. I think by this evening after all votes have been cast, every man and woman who has voted will know and feel that he or she has won, because while proportional representation has been on the national agenda for decades, my administration actually put this into effect. So that at the end of the day, every single vote will count and every single person will win".
She said " so I feel good having voted today. I am told there are one million persons registered to vote. Local government turnout is not as high as a general election, so I urge everyone to exercise their franchise to vote".
She added "we have had no serious reports of any incidents except one or two stations reported that is ink is coming off easily, so we monitor that throughout the day".
Asked about the decision of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning to quit electoral politics at the end of his current term as Member of Parliament for San Fernando East, Persad-Bissessar said "Mr Manning has served our country well and has been Prime Minister on more than one occasion. best of luck on any future endeavors he may engage in".
COP ALREADY HAS CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR
THE Congress of the People (COP) already has candidates for selection to the post of mayor of San Fernando should the results from the local government elections be in their favour.
But Chairman of the party, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said that consultation will first be made with the councillors with regard to the final choice.
While she did not want to divulge any names, Seepersad-Bachan said that it would have been hinted while the COP was on the campaign trail.
"By election of the aldermen, via the proportional representation system ... as they gather all the votes cast for each political party ... if get one alderman, two aldermen we will announce those names ... Important in there is we would also want to consult with our councillors as to who will become the mayor of San Fernando," she said.
Seepersad-Bachan spoke to reporters after casting her vote at the San Fernando Methodist school, Mon Chagrin Street, San Fernando.
She cast her vote around the same time as former Prime Minister Patrick Manning and said that while she did not meet him, she shared a "warm embrace" with his wife, Hazel Manning.
NO COPS AT TWO POLLING LOCATIONS
Express journalist Susan Mohammed was told today that no police officers were assigned this morning to the polling stations located at the Santa Rita Roman Catholic Primary School, on the Tabaquite Road, San Pedro, and the Torrib Trace Presbyterian Primary School, at Brothers Road, Brickfield Village.
As a result, for several hours, voting took place in the absence of law enforcement officers. The issue at one of the school was known to have been resolved by noon. The polling stations are located with the area controlled by the Couva/Talparo/Tabaquite Regional Corporation.
The Express learned that a senior officer was making checks at polling stations this morning, only to discover that police officers were not at the two schools, one of which is the location for three polling stations.
The Express was told that Inspector Fitzgerald George contacted Central Division Senior Superintendent Johnny Abraham, who contacted the Eastern Division of the Police Service. It was only then that police officers were dispatched to the schools.
An EBC official explained that the absence of police officers at two polling stations was more of a police issue than an EBC issue, since police officers are not required by law to be stationed at polling stations.
“Usually the request for police presence is made by the Commission to assist the presiding officers to maintain law and order at the polling stations,” the EBC official told Express journalist Camille Bethel.
ELECTION IRREGULARITY REPORTED IN PRINCES TOWN
A report has been made at the Princes Town Police Station regarding the conduct of a local government candidate, who, it is claimed, spent a long period of time on the compound of a polling station in Manahambre.
The police are expected to investigate whether the candidate is in breach of Elections and Boundaries Commission regulations.
The report was made this afternoon after representatives of the United National Congress' candidate Derryck Mathura received information about the alleged incident. The election matter is in the area controlled by the Princes Town Regional Corporation. The Express has been told that the matter is engaging the legal officer assigned to the Police Service.
"MODERATE" TURNOUT IN ARIMA
Express Associate Editor Irene Medina, reporting out of Arima, has described the pace of voting as moderate. The Arima Borough Corporation is Congress of the People (COP)-controlled, with only a single Peoples National Movement (PNM) councillor winning an electoral district in the 2010 local government polls.
During this campaign, the PNM put up a strong showing, and is hoping to win back control of the Corporation. Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) officials expect that voting will pick up in the afternoon as persons leave for work early. At one polling station at Calvary Hill, several persons showed up without identification cards and had to affirm in order to cast ballots. Police and EBC officials said there were no election related issues during the morning.
The electorate in the Borough of Arima is 20,060, small compared to the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, where the electorate is more than 168,000.
MANNING - I AM DONE WITH POLITICS
Express journalist Nikita Braxton today spoke with ailing Member of Parliament for San Fernando East Patrick Manning. He said he was now finished with electoral politics.
Manning spoke with members of the media after voting at the San Fernando Methodist Primary School shortly before noon.
Asked if he intended to contest for the leadership position at the upcoming internal elections of the Peoples National Movement (PNM), Manning said "I have already said that when I am finished with this term of office, I am going to ride off into the sunset".
Manning was Prime Minister when he called an early election in May 2010, which the PNM lost by a landslide to the Peoples Partnership coalition.
Manning suffered a debilitating stroke on January 23, 2011 and has not been to Parliament since.
He returned to Trinidad on July 30 that same year after being treated in Washington DC, USA. He has had multiple extensions to his medical leave of absence from Parliament.
Manning receives regular physiotherapy and frequently visits San Fernando General Hospital for medical check-ups. He has suffered two seizures which doctors said were expected after suffering a stroke.
However, he was well enough to campaign with a PNM candidate during the local government election race.
Asked today about his health, Manning said "not like yours but I will make it". Manning said he had no problems voting. He cast his ballot for Naigum Joseph, the PNM's candidate for Springvale/Paradise.
Express journalist Camille Bethel, who spent time at the Election and Boundaries Commission's (EBC) headquarters at Frederick Street, Port of Spain, said that several persons went to the office this morning asking whether they were eligible to vote. Checks by the EBC officials showed that they could not, because they had either waited too late to renew identification cards, or change addresses.
However, in some instances, the EBC was blamed. One man said he went to the EBC office seven months ago to change his address, and returned three months ago, to be told that no one had verified his new address.
As a result, he received no polling card, and when he turned up to vote this morning, his name was not listed.
In another instance, the 20-year-old son of Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds was also unable to vote because his name was on an "age-pending list" which meant that he had not yet been verified.
Hinds said the EBC was supposed to have conducted a sealed investigation to determine whether the individual was alive, before the person was transferred to the voting list. He asked "how many thousands more are being affected the same way today because of the EBC's inefficiency?" Hinds asked that there be an investigation into the operations of the EBC.
STACY ROOPNARINE - USE ID CARDS TO VOTE
A 58 year old Hermitage man is questioning why his name was not on the Elections and Boundaries voters' list at a polling station where he claimed he had voted all his life.
Kelvin Jaikaran, of 127 Dumfries Road, was deemed ineligible to vote at the Hermitage Presbyterian Primary School - the same polling station where Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to cast her voted today.
Jaikaran said he wondered why after 30 years of casting his ballot in the same location he was turned away at the polls.
"I feel bad. I voted all my life here. I want to make a vote", he said.
Jaikaran said he and his siblings even attended that primary school. "I passed Common Entrance right here with 72 other children. How come they do me that?" he asked.
In an almost immediate response Member of Parliament for Oropouche West Stacy Roopnarine who turned up at the school after Jaikaran left the premises advised persons whose names were not on the list to check with the returning officer in the area.
Roopnarine advised persons who did not have their poll card to still go to the polling station with their Identification Cards and vote if their name is on the list.
Roopnarine said the voting was thus far going smoothly within the Penal\Debe region. Holding up her stained finger she said she cast her vote at the Penal Government Primary School.
COP CONFIDENT OF VICTORY
Express journalist Michelle Loubon visited Santa Cruz, Barataria and Mt Hope communities today. She said voting was slow but steady and there was not a large voter turnout, likely due to the inclement weather.
Loubon spoke with Prakash Ramadhar, who voted at the Mt D’Or Government Primary School. He said: “The process was faultless and did not take long. There are some teething problems but things are going along well.
“The COP is confident of victory, however, we are not looking at this election but a more futuristic, long term approach. We want to develop a sense of patriotism among the youths.
Ramadhar said that allegations made on the platform during the campaign have damaged peoples’ reputation irreparably but he hope the electorate will take advantage of exercising their franchise for this election.
Voting began today under grey skies, with some electors braving heavy showers to get to polling stations set up across Trinidad, to cast ballots in the local government elections.
According to Election And Boundaries Commission figures, 1, 036, 721 persons are eligible to vote. There are 427 candidates offering themselves on behalf of eight political parties. Several independents are also candidates.
Some 136 seats are to be filled in fourteen Corporations.
Based on early voting, election officials believe that the percentage of the electorate casting ballots at this election will be greater than the last election.
The 2010 local government election, in which the Peoples Partnership coalition won 99 of the seat and eleven Corporations, had a 39 per cent voter turn out.
The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission has issued an alert to citizens that should there be a power outage, affected person can call hotline numbers 794-7264 or 794-4823.
Senior Superintendent in the South Western Division Carl Ramlal, and Southern Division Senior Superintendent Cecil Santana said this morning that there were no election related crimes reported at any of the polling stations in the division. The officers said that regular police patrols were being conducted and citizens should feel free to exercise their civic duty.
The voting began at 6 a.m, and ends at 6. p.m.