PNM, UNC to decide on by-election candidates soon

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo PNM general secretary and La Horquetta/Talparo MP Foster Cummings speaks at a PNM town meeting.

THE People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) central executive will meet on May 20 to consider, and possibly approve, the recommendations of the party’s screening committee for candidates to contest the June 17 Lengua/Indian Walk and Quinam/Morne Diablo by-elections.

Party general secretary and Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings made this announcement in a statement on May 17.

Cummings said the screening committee has recommended Autly Granthume and Anderson Nanan to be its respective candidates for the Lengua/Indian Walk and Quinam/Morne Diablo by-elections.

Granthume was the PNM’s candidate for Lengua/Indian Walk in last August’s local government elections.

Cummings said, “Rooted in its rich legacy of a determination to provide good governance and proper representation to all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, the PNM issued a call for nominations for the electoral districts of Quinam/ Morne Diablo and Lengua/ Indian Walk, for which by-elections must be held.”

In a statement on May 9, Cummings announced the PNM opened nominations for people to be considered as candidates for these by-elections.

The deadline for the submission of nominations was May 15.

Cummings said, “Several nomination forms were submitted by the party groups within the two electoral districts and yesterday (May 16) these nominees appeared before the party’s screening committee at Balisier House, Port of Spain.”

PNM chairman Stuart Young, deputy political leader Colm Imbert, lady vice-chairman Camille Robinson-Regis and PRO Faris Al-Rawi are some of the members of this committee.

On May 9, Cummings reiterated that the PNM has a rich history of fielding candidates in every election in Trinidad and Tobago.

Several nomination forms were submitted by the party groups within the two electoral districts and on May 16, the nominees appeared before the party’s screening Committee at Balisier House, Port of Spain.

The United National Congress’s (UNC’s) preparations for the by-elections are also continuing apace.

A party official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the UNC closed nominations for candidates on May 17 and screening of nominees will begin soon.

The UNC opened nominations on May 13.

On May 9, UNC chairman Davendranath Tancoo expressed confidence with the process the party was using to select candidates for these by-elections

He was confident that “the best (UNC) candidate will be selected to represent the burgesses in those areas.”

Tancoo claimed that government did not call the date for these by-elections sooner because it knew the UNC will win both of them.

In March, the Court of Appeal dismissed a petition by the UNC to stop a by-election in Lengua/Indian Walk.

Justices of Appeal Charmaine Pemberton, Vasheist Kokaram and Carla Brown-Antoine held that a disputed ballot, favouring then UNC candidate Nicole Gopaul-Jones in the August 2023 local government elections, could not be counted because of the failure of the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s returning officer to initial it.

The judges dismissed the UNC’s election petition. They ruled the election rules under the Representation of the People Act allowed for the rejection of the special ballot.

The UNC filed the petition on August 21, 2023, after two recounts led to Granthume being announced the winner over Gopaul-Jones on election night, August 14, 2023.

Granthume initially received 1,430 votes compared to Gopaul-Jones’s 1,425. At the end of the first recount, each candidate received 1,428 votes.

The returning officer rejected a special ballot in favour of Gopaul-Jones – which would have broken the tie.

Quinam/Morne Diablo was declared vacant after the death of its UNC councillor Diptee Ramnath last December.

Ramnath was also Penal/Debe Regional Corporation chairman at that time.

Nomination day for these by-elections is May 24.

This date marks the 14th anniversary of the May 24, 2010 general election which the then UNC-led People’s Partnership (PP) coalition defeated the PNM, 29-12.

The PP subsequently disbanded after it lost the September 7, 2015 general election to the PNM, 23-18