Only PNM, UNC contesting Debe South

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Purushottam Singh –

THE PNM and UNC so far remain the only political entities who will be contesting the Debe South by-election on February 7. On Monday, both parties were looking to wrap up their nomination processes which began one week ago. Neither side has selected a candidate as yet.

The Prime Minister advised President Paula-Mae Weekes of the February 7 by-election date in a statement issued by his office (OPM) on January 3.

The Debe South seat became vacant after the death of councillor Purushottam Singh on February 14, 2021. The district falls under the jurisdiction of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC).

The OPM statement said Dr Rowley also advised Weekes that nomination day for the by-election will be January 17.

He asked for the election writ for the by-election to be issued in accordance with the provisions of Section 29 of the Municipal Corporations Act.

A PNM official, “Nominations have been submitted but the final list will be compiled after the close of nominations.”

On January 6, PNM PRO Laurel Lezama Lee Sing said the party would close nominations for the by-election on Monday.

Last week, PNM general secretary and Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings said the party would determine the process for screening nominees (whether virtually or limited in-person format) after the nomination process was closed.

The UNC also set their nomination deadline for Monday as well. Neither the PNM nor the UNC indicated any extensions of their nomination processes.

A UNC official explained the party would issue a release if there was going to be an extension.

“We (UNC) don’t usually indicate the number of nominees, just the date for screening to begin.”

Both parties are expected to begin screening nominees later this week, with prospective candidates being named on or before January 16, one day before nomination day (January 17). Sources said the UNC could comment on the by-election at its virtual forum which was scheduled for Monday night.

Last week MSJ political leader David Abdulah was doubtful whether the MSJ would contest the by-election.

Also last week, Congress of the People (COP) political leader Kirt Sinnette said the party was searching for a candidate. To date, the COP has not confirmed whether or not it will contest the by-election. There is no information as well of any independent candidates contesting what has been a traditional UNC stronghold district.

In the December 2019 local government elections, the UNC won all ten districts in the PDRC. The party also has four aldermen at the corporation.

In those elections, Singh convincingly defeated PNM candidate Jagessar Deodath by 2,859 to 103 votes. There are 12 polling stations in the district.

In the 2019 local government elections, the PNM and UNC each won seven of the 14 local government corporations in Trinidad. The UNC holds the Chaguanas borough and Penal/Debe, Siparia, Princes Town, Sangre Grande, Mayaro/Rio Claro and Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo regional corporations. The PNM controls the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando; Arima and Point Fortin boroughs; and San/Juan Laventille and Diego Martin regional corporations.

Local government elections are constitutionally due in Trinidad this year.