PNM, UNC open nominations for Debe South by-election

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The death of councillor Purushottam Singh made the Debe South seat vacant prompting the by-election on February 7. Photo courtesy UNC Facebook page

THE PNM and the UNC got the ball rolling on Tuesday for nominations for potential candidates for the Debe South by-election on February 7.

In a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on Monday, the Prime Minister advised President Paula-Mae Weekes of this date.

The Debe South seat became vacant after the death of councillor Purushottam Singh on February 14, 2021. The Debe South 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 has 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.

Asked whether the PNM had opened nominations for candidates, PNM general secretary and Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings said, “Yes, we have.”

On whether the screening of nominees would be done virtually or in a limited physical format, following covid19 protocols, Cummings said, “We will announce the screening details soon.”

The UNC, in a paid advertisement, announced it was inviting nominations for candidates. Nomination forms are available at UNC headquarters at the M Rampersad Building, San Fernando from Tuesday-Friday, between 8 am and 4 pm.

On the format for screening UNC nominees, UNC chairman Dave Tancoo said, “We will decide the format in full compliance with the covid19 protocols, as always.”

MSJ political leader David Abdulah was doubtful whether the MSJ would contest the Debe South by-election, saying, “That is a solid UNC area.”

Abdulah said the MSJ had never contested the district in the past, and while it knows people there, the party does not have a presence there. He also said with local government elections constitutionally due this year, the MSJ’s executive would need to factor this into its plans for 2022, when it meets in a few days.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has also started its preparations for the by-election. In a statement, the commission said EBC chairman Mark Ramkerrysingh presented the election writ to returning officer Ramawatee Rampersad Ganga Persad on Tuesday.

The writ gives Rampersad Ganga Persad the authority to conduct the by-election for the EBC.

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 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. The UNC holds the Chaguanas borough and Penal/Debe, Siparia, Princes Town, Sangre Grande, Mayaro/Rio Claro and Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo regional corporations.