Trinidad & Tobago gears up for polls, Indian-origin Kamla Bissessar eyes second term as PM


By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, home to a huge ethnic Indian population, will be holding general elections on September 7, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said.

Persad-Bissessar, who is of Indian origin, made the announcement at the final sitting of the 41-member House of Representatives on Friday.

On May 24, 2010, Persad-Bissessar became the first Hindu woman to sit on the prime minister’s chair of this Caribbean nation. During Friday’s announcement, she said that she would advise the president to dissolve parliament at midnight on Wednesday, June 17.

Persad-Bissessar formed the People’s Partnership coalition government with her United National Congress(UNC), the Congress of the People(COP), the Movement for Social Justice(MSJ), the National Joint Action Committee(NJAC) and the Tobago Organisation of People (TOP).

Several social issues, infrastructural matters and political matters are projected to be aired on the political platforms during the 87-day campaign for the September 7 elections, the 10th in the country.

The opposition — People’s National Movement (PNM), led by Keith Rowley — has been campaigning prior to Friday’s announcement by the prime minister for several weeks now.

This is the first time that a large number of opinion polls have been done with television and radio stations also involved in the process. The latest opinion polls shows the People’s Partnership coalition getting 21 seats and the PNM 20 seats or vice versa.

Elections in this twin-island republic are based on the ethnic composition of the one million plus voters. All persons 18 years and over are eligible to vote.

44 percent of the country’s population is comprised of people belonging to East Indian extraction, whose forefathers were sourced from India between 1845 and 1917 to work on the agricultural plantations of the then British colony of Trinidad and Tobago.

Observers contend that the elections this year will be tough. Trinidad and Tobago, like India, is a member of the Commonwealth.

(With inputs from IANS)