PORT-OF-SPAIN: The nation’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has announced that 97 candidates have been nominated to contest the May 24 general election.
Both the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) and the United National Congress-led People’s Partnership, comprising of five opposition parties and trade unions, will contest all 41 seats at stake in the poll that Prime Minister Patrick Manning called two and half years ahead of the constitutional deadline.
The New National Vision (NNV), headed by Furad Abu Bakr, will contest 12 seats. Bakr is the son of the leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen group, Yasin Abu Bakr, who in 1990 staged an unsuccessful coup against the then A.N.R. Robinson government.
Furad Abu Bakr said the party intends to place emphasis on alleviating the socio-economic problems faced by citizens and also wants citizens to make the right choice to eradicate corruption in the country.
The EBC said that three independent candidates were also nominated following last Monday’s Nomination Day exercise.
Noticeably absent from the list of candidates is former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, who had earlier indicated that he was likely to contest the election as an independent.
Meanwhile, the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has been invited to send observers to monitor the general election.
“We are going to ask CARICOM to send elections observers to observe the election in Trinidad and Tobago,” Manning said.
“I think it must be absolutely clear that elections are conducted in a free and fair manner and we want that certified by an outside body, in this case it’s CARICOM. We are going to press on CARICOM to send observers.”
Manning said the presence of external observers would certify the outcome of the national poll, which some analysts say is shaping up to be one of the closest in the twin island republic’s political history.
The election is seen as a battle between Manning’s ruling PNM and a coalition of opposition parties and trade unions, led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar.