PNM, UNC to end Debe by-election nominations on January 10

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Davendranath Tancoo

THE PNM and UNC are moving to conclude their respective nomination processes next week for the Debe South local government by-election.

The Prime Minister advised President Paula-Mae Weekes of this date in a statement issued by his office (OPM) on Monday, .

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.

On Monday, PNM general secretary and Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings said the party has started inviting nominations for the by-election. On Thursday, PNM PRO Laurel Lezama Lee Sing said the party will close nominations on January 10.

She said the PNM’s constituency executives, party groups and youth league in Oropouche East, Oropouche West, Siparia and in the PDRC are all mobilised and ready for the by-election.

Cummings also said the subsequent method of screening nominees, whether virtually or in a limited physical format following covid19 protocols, will be be determined.

“We will announce the screening details soon.”

The UNC has also identified January 10 as its deadline for submission of nominations.

In a paid advertisement, the UNC said nomination forms are available at its party headquarters at the M Rampersad Building, San Fernando. On the subsequent screening of nominees, UNC chairman Dave Tancoo said, “We will decide the format in full compliance with the covid19 protocols, as always.”

In a statement on Thursday, UNC PRO Dr Kirk Meighoo boasted the party will win the by-election. He reiterated criticisms made last year by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and PDRC chairman Dr Allen Sammy against Government for not holding the by-election then.

Meighoo claimed the PNM has an embarrassing history of delaying local govermment elections and by-elections.

MSJ political leader David Abdulah was doubtful whether the MSJ would contest the by-election. Congress of the People (COP) political leader Kirt Sinnette said the party is searching for a candidate.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) on Monday said it had started its preparations for the by-election.

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.