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E-day in TT

April 17, 2010

Voters will go to the polls in Trinidad and Tobago on 24 May.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning announced the date on Friday, nine days after he initiated the dissolution of the country’s parliament.
There has been much debate and speculation in the ensuing days over Manning’s unprecedented move.

Since then the main opposition parties, the United National Congress (UNC) and the Congress of the People (COP) have been in talks about forming an alliance to contest the polls.

Nomination day has been set for 3 May.

Prime Minister Manning is seeking a fourth term in office.

In the last election in 2007, his People’s National Movement (PNM) won 26 of the 41 seats.

Candidate selection

The three main parties have been going through a process of selecting their candidates for the election.

That’s also a high-pressure process as sitting candidates are not guaranteed that they will defend the seat in the election.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Will Persad-Bissessar make it a double by also becoming TT’s first woman prime minister?

This past week much attention was focused on Mr Manning’s PNM and party stalwart Dr Keith Rowley, over whether he would be allowed to defend his seat.

Dr Rowley, who was replaced as a cabinet minister in 2008, and is considered as a likely successor to Mr Manning, has had differences with his party leader.

The opposition UNC has had a period of internal wrangling over the leadership of founder and former prime minister Basdeo Panday.

That on the one hand led Winston Dookeran, to break away and form the Congress of the People Party (COP).

Winston Dookeran
Dookeran split from the UNC to form the COP

In January Mr Panday lost a bitter party leadership battle to Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Shortly thereafter she also replaced him as the UNC’s parliamentary opposition leader.

Mr Panday, who was deselected from running in the seat he had won under the UNC, has said that he’s considering contesting the polls as an independent candidate.

He is targeting a constituency currently held by his former UNC ally and party chairman Jack Warner.

Coming out of talks on Friday, the UNC and COP parties said they had committed to compaigning jointly, but no accord was signed.

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