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Saturday, June 13, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
T&T will go to the polls in a general
election on Monday, September 7.
A day after hinting about a possible elec-
tion date, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar announced it in the House of Rep-
resentatives at 2.31 pm yesterday, climaxing
an address to the Parliament which closed
the final session of the Tenth Parliament.
"Mr Speaker, the People s Partnership
Government is ready to return to the voters
of Trinidad and Tobago. We re ready because
we are proud of our record of achievement.
We re ready because our promises have been
kept. I wish to advise general elections in
T&T will be held on Monday, 7 September
2015," the PM declared.
Persad-Bissessar said she would advise
the President to dissolve the Parliament at
midnight on June 17---the official end of the
term of the current Tenth Parliament.
The September election date means polit-
ical parties---and T&T---will experience two
and a half months of campaigning.
Elections and Boundaries Commission
(EBC) Chief Elections Officer Ramesh Nanan
said, yesterday, EBC law stipulates that
nomination day for candidates must be no
less than 21 days before the election date.
That would be mid-August.
In an immediate reaction after yesterday s
parliament session ended, Opposition Peo-
ple s National Movement deputy leader
Marlene McDonald, who headed PNM MPs
in Parliament yesterday, declared, "We
ready---let s rumble!"
Embattled Independent Liberal Party (ILP)
leader Jack Warner briefly muttered, "Long
After the PM s announcement and the
closure of Parliament at 2.45 pm, the PM
and McDonald shook hands warmly and
other MPs from both the PP and PNM
shook hands; some hugged or kissed,
Several PP MPs shook hands with Warner
as they all said goodbye to the tenth par-
liamentary term and left to prepare for elec-
That got underway last night when Per-
sad-Bissessar addressed UNC supporters
at Claxton Bay. She will also officially kick
off the campaign at a Monday Night Forum
at the UNC s Rienzi Complex on Monday
In her final address to Parliament for the
term, Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition
had tried to create panic in the society by
claiming if the general election was held
in September it would be too late to have
a national budget approved. This, she said,
wasn t true.
"In 2002, the then prime minister waited
until August 28 to advise a dissolution of
Parliament, after he and his party failed to
elect a speaker of the House of Represen-
tatives on two occasions when they held
the reins of power after the 18-18 tie. They
could have dissolved the Parliament earlier
and gone to the country, but they chose to
"The current Opposition Leader was a
member of the Cabinet at that time and
at no point did he or any member of that
government ever lift a finger in public to
argue about the time frame for the passing
of a budget."
She added, "Today we re regaled with
these spurious arguments when we know
that their government called a general elec-
tion on Monday, 7 October 2002 and they
opened the Parliament on Thursday, 17
October 2002 and they went immediately
into passing a budget in both Houses of
Parliament before the deadline date of 31
"If the result of that general election had
gone our way, we would have been the ones
to work with the same timelines to pass a
"We re nowhere near those timelines
from 2002 and they should know better
than to make such spurious arguments
when there is more than adequate time to
pass a budget if there is a general election
SEE PAGES A4, A5, A6 & A7
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said
yesterday the PP was the only Government in
T&T s republican history to have served the full
parliamentary term and she could provide dates
of parliamentary dissolution and openings to
She said the Opposition had continually claimed
the PP wouldn t have lasted in Government, but
"they got rid of their leader in 2010, but they
couldn t get rid of us. We ve served our full term
despite their best efforts."
She reiterated her explanation of her decision to
postpone the Constitution (Amendment) Bill s run-
off provision to a second term, in favour of having
more consultation as civil society had requested.
"This 2015 general election will be contested on
the existing rules and regulations and I m serving
notice that this will be an election issue over which
the People s Partnership and the PNM have clear
divisions. We will go to the country on these issues
and on others."
Another second term project, she said, would be
legislation for fixed dates for elections, which required
a three-quarters majority vote in the Lower House
and a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
"I intend to bring this measure to Parliament in
our second term, when there is likely to be new
leadership in the PNM after the general election is
held," Persad-Bissessar said.
"We were opposed by the PNM when we tried
to amend the Constitution in 2011 to ensure that
the death penalty could be carried out once more...so
the bill failed. We were opposed by the PNM on
our amendment to deliver internal self-government
to Tobago, and the special majority that we needed
was denied by the Opposition as they continued
relentless resistance to many progressive measures
to bring advancement and change to our society.
But they couldn t deny us our ability to serve out
She added, "We always had the trust and con-
fidence of the people behind us and we re still here
at the end of this Parliament. We were elected for
five years and we ve served faithfully and well for
those five years.
"Some who were with us in the beginning are
not here with us now. That is the nature of politics.
We ve transformed the landscape of our country
in five short years in a way that has not been seen
for over 50 years---one good term deserves anoth-
er."She also promised to work on campaign finance
reform legislation if given a second term.
"I ve always been absolutely insistent we will
introduce the highest standards in T&T s public
life. If we do not, our democracy suffers and the
people who form our electorate are the losers.
"We must not let them down. As politicians we
are duty-bound to do our utmost to ensure the
highest standards of probity and transparency."
Persad-Bissessar also thanked House Speaker
Wade Mark for his service as parliament s presiding
officer and all parliament staff and security.
Concluding the final session of the term, Leader
of Government Business Roodal Moonilal also pro-
nounced the adjournment of the Parliament, "Sine
die (without date)."
Kamla proud of
PP's five-year term
PM keeps promise to call election date
Three months of
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar greets supporters as Chaguanas West MP Jack
Warner, right, exits the parliamentary chamber following her announcement of the date
for the general election, yesterday. The general election will take place on September 7.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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