Voters in Trinidad and Tobago chose not to give Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s coalition a new five-year term, opting to bring back the opposition under Keith Rowley. People in the oil-rich, twin island nation off South America’s northeastern shoulder voted yesterday in elections that had the prime minister battling both the opposition — and an upstart splinter party launched by disgraced football honcho Jack Warner. Persad-Bissessar’s main challenger was Rowley, a vulcanologist; his People’s National Movement (PNM) has governed the nation more than any other since independence from Britain in 1964. “These are not the times of milk and honey. There are difficult times ahead. We have a resilient people, particularly a large body of young people who are looking for a future from our country,” the prime minister-elect said to chants of “Rowley, Rowley” from hundreds of supporters.
Rowley assured supporters of the coalition that he intended to “govern for all of Trinidad and Tobago” and the first order of business for his cabinet was the national budget due by September 30th.
Persad-Bissessar did not concede defeat nor congratulate Rowley in a speech given at her constituency office in Siparia rather than the headquarters of her party, the United National Congress (UNC), where hundreds had gathered in anticipation of victory celebrations which quickly changed to sombre acceptance of defeat.
Prior to giving his victory speech, Rowley told reporters the victory at the polls was “the beginning of another era” saying that the party had prepared itself well for governance.