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Rowley pleased with victory

Trinidad Express / Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last night said he was pleased with what he described as a “handsome victory” for the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the 2016 local government elections.

Speaking at the party headquarters at Balisier House, Rowley also disclosed that while there is a tie in Sangre Grande, the PNM got the popular vote.

“We in the PNM, we are very pleased with the results, we entered this campaign at a particularly difficult time for Trinidad and Tobago…from the moment we got into government we were governing in very strained circumstances and, not surprisingly, there were some people who were disappointed that things were not as rosy at it should be,” he said.

He noted that a seat that the PNM lost in La Romaine in 2013 was won yesterday by 300 votes. Rowley said in the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, where there was a four-four tie, the PNM did very well, pointing out that the PNM lost two of those seats—one by 300 votes and another by 200-odd.

“We are very pleased by those gains we made in Cumuto-Tamana and Manzanilla and, interesting enough, that is the area where we lost the seats and that’s what brought Sangre Grande into a four-four situation,” he said.

Rowley said, by and large, people in the country are understanding of the difficulty the Government is having in running the country’s affairs under the current circumstances.

He noted that the low voter turnout was not surprising as the local government polls do not attract a large voter turnout.

He said the PNM did as much as it could do in motivating people to come out to vote.

Rowley said as he watched the analysts on TV last night his mind went back to when Jack Warner won the Chaguanas West by-election and won every polling division. He said the analysts were speaking to all kinds of political developments in the country from this.

“The analysis was dire for the PNM…and on that night I predicted by the next election Jack Warner will not be a candidate in Chaguanas West and, of course, so be it,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted the PNM campaigned very strongly on local government reform and the Government remains committed to the changes promised. He said he had not heard of anybody being prevented from going to the polls and those who voted supported the PNM position. He said the programme of local government reform will be accelerated.

With respect to Sangre Grande, Rowley said he was not too clear on the outcome as straws will have to be drawn and the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) will determine the results with respect to aldermen and chairmanship.

“My understanding is that even though we are four-four, the PNM got the popular vote in Sangre Grande,” he said.

Again addressing questions on the low voter turnout, Rowley said: “My interpretation is that they knew the PNM would be in charge and they are quite happy to put the PNM in charge of their affairs. If they were fearful, then they would come out and vote against the PNM,”

PNM chairman Franklin Khan announced that the PNM won seven corporations, the United National Congress (UNC) six and one tied—Sangre Grande Regional Corporation. The PNM has won 83 electoral districts and the UNC 54.

He noted that in five corporations the PNM won all seats—Arima, Port of Spain, Diego Martin, Point Fortin and San Fernando.

Added to that, Khan said there are only two corporations where the PNM did not get a seat—Penal/Debe and Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo.

“In every single corporation, except Sangre Grande, where we lost one seat, the status quo has remained from the 2013 election, meaning the UNC has only gained three electoral districts in this election—San Juan East, Valsayn-St Joseph and Manzanilla,” he said. The PNM had a net decrease of one seat from 137 seats in total.

“The UNC has not won any election, the PNM has resoundingly won the local government elections,” said Khan. He said today with a two-party fight the PNM has done better.

“I think we have gained more ground politically and numerically,” said Khan.

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