Local government by-elections set for June 17

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PNM local govt election candidate for Lengua/Indian Walk Autly Granthume. FILE PHOTO –

THE by-elections for two electoral districts from two United National Congress-controlled corporations have been set for June 17.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on May 10 said President Christine Carla Kangaloo issued writs of elections for the Lengua/ Indian Walk and Quinam/ Morne Diablo seats.

It was based on the advice of Dr Keith Rowley on May 6. Rowley is in Ghana attending the celebration of Osei Tutu II’s 25th year of ascension to the Golden Stool and reign as King of Asante.

The nomination day is set for May 24.

Lengua/ Indian Walk falls under the Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC), which is led by chairman Gowrie Roopnarine. The seat is one of ten in the corporation. The UNC won all nine other districts.

The People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate Autly Granthume and UNC candidate Nicole Gopaul contested the seat in the August 14, 2023, local government election. Granthume is a pastor at the Mt Pleasant Baptist Church in Indian Walk.

No winner was declared, and the UNC filed a petition on August 21, 2023, after two recounts led to Granthume being announced the winner over Gopaul.

At the end of the first recount, each candidate received 1,428 votes.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission’s (EBC) returning officer rejected a special ballot in favour of Gopaul, which would have broken the tie.

The UNC petitioned for the rejected special ballot to be counted and called for Gopaul to be declared the winner.

In March, the Court of Appeal dismissed the petition.

Meanwhile, the Quinam/ Morne Diablo seat became vacant after councillor and Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) chairman Diptee Ramnath died in December at the San Fernando General Hospital after ailing for some time.

Deputy chairman Gowtam Maharaj is now the chairman.

On May 9, at a UNC press briefing, Maharaj called on the authority to set a date for the election, saying it was overdue, unconstitutional, and unjust to postpone the by-elections, leaving the residents without an elected official to represent them.

He charged that he and other council members were managing the Quinam/ Morne Diablo district.

A statement from the UNC on the night of May 10 said it is accepting nominations for the upcoming by-elections for both electoral districts.

Nomination Forms will be available at the party’s headquarters, at Mulchan Seuchan Road in Chaguanas, from May 13 between 9 am and 4 pm. The deadline for submitting nominations is May 17 at 4 pm.

A statement on May 9, from PNM general secretary Foster Cummings, said the nomination period runs from May 9 to 15, with screening to begin shortly afterwards.

The EBC confirmed via a media release that the returning officers for both districts received their writs from chairman Mark Ramkerrysingh on May 10.

Ramawatee Rampersad Ganga Persad for Quinam/Morne Diablo and Richard Greenidge for Lengua/Indian Walk received their writs at a presentation at EBC’s Central Electoral Office at Scott House in Port of Spain.