News day / PNM Chairman Franklin Khan, at a press conference at Balisier House in Port-of-Spain, said the PNM is claiming outright victory in Sangre Grande which would give it control of three boroughs (Arima, Pt Fortin and San Fernando) and five regional corporations to the UNCs five regional corporations and one borough (Chaguanas).
Flanked at the press conference by PNM lawyer Michael Quamina and PNM general secretary Ashton Ford, Khan said he knew of the UNCs penchant for filing lawsuits and said the ruling party is ready for any legal challenge mounted by the Opposition party.
The PNM, which tallied 10,399 votes in Sangre Grande won Toco/ Fishing Pond; Sangre Grande North-East, Sangre Grande North- West and Valencia electoral districts while the UNC, which tallied 9,959 votes, secured Sangre Grande South; Cumuto/Tamana; Manzanilla and Vega De Oropouche.
We have sought legal advice on this position and we felt that while the law is silent on certain aspects of it (a tied corporation), based on precedent and based on the spirit of the law, we think we are in the right direction, Khan said as he recalled that ten days before the 2013 local government election, the Partnership brought to Parliament, through an amendment to the Municipal Corporation Act, a method of using proportional representation for the selection of aldermen. They introduced a new system ten days before the election in what I would kind of consider subterfuge. But having said that they had the majority in the Parliament at the time and they devised a system where you will take the total number of votes cast, divide it by four, and the answer to that, you use that as the basis.
You take the number of votes that each party receive, divide it by this common denominator and then it churns out for you how many aldermen you are entitled to, Khan said.
Having said that, what the population didnt realise is that during that amendment to the Municipal Corporations Act which they (the Partnership) felt was the ultimate solution to everything, they eliminated clauses that dealt with how to break a deadlock in the event of a tied corporation. Under the current Municipal Corporation Act, the council is dissolved but the chairmen and mayors remain in their position until such time as a new council and a new mayor of chairman is sworn in, he said. Khan said that in the interim, Rondon who retained the Toco/ Fishing Pond electoral district, will continue to function as Chairman of the corporation, until such time that the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation could elect a new chairman, if at all.
That is our current position and we feel we will be doing a disservice to the people of Sangre Grande if we take any other position, he said.
Khan said the PNM scored a resounding victory on four counts.
He said with regard to control of municipal bodies and regional corporations, the PNM won seven out of 14, while the UNC won six, with one corporation ending in a tie. In any football match that is a win, Khan said. In relation to the number of electoral districts, Khan said the PNM won 81 electoral districts while the UNC won 56. That is a resounding victory, he said. With regard to the popular vote, the chairman said preliminary indicators suggest the PNM will receive no less than 55 percent of the popular vote, bearing in mind in 2013, as good as we did, we only got 43per cent of the popular vote. Khan also said that based on the selection of aldermen and the formula that has been revised in the Act, we will be getting significantly more aldermen that the UNC. So the four measurables in this election, we have won on all counts, he said.
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