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Mix-up at swearing-in of Trinidad prime minister forces second ceremony

Defeated Kamla challenges general election results in Trinidad and Tobago rowley swearing in

PRIME MINISTER DR. KEITH ROWLEY TAKES THE OATH OF OFFICE.

A protocol mix-up resulted in Trinidad’s new Attorney General and National Security Minister having to take the oath of office twice yesterday.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and the National Security Minister, retired Major General Edmund Dillon, were initially sworn in at the ceremony at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, which saw Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley officially becoming the country’s leader following his People’s National Movement (PNM) victory at the polls on Monday.

The two should have been sworn in before Rowley, but instead Dillon went first, followed by Al-Rawi, and then the prime minister.

dillon oath of office

RETIRED MAJOR GENERAL EDMUND DILLON, THE NEW NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER, WAS THE FIRST TO TAKE THE OATH.

al rawi

AS WAS PREDICTED, FARIS AL-RAWI WAS CHOSEN AS ATTORNEY GENERAL.

A statement from the Office of the President last night acknowledged the mistake at the swearing-in and said the matter had been dealt with.

“There was a sequential error in the order of the oath-taking at the swearing-in ceremony . . . This has been immediately rectified and the oath of office was retaken by Mr Al-Rawi, MP, and retired Major General Dillon, MP, and new instruments of appointment were reissued respectively at the Office of the President,” it said.

“This error does not nullify in any way the oath and appointment of the duly elected Prime Minister,” it added.

Both Al-Rawi and Dillon said they were not bothered about the mishap, adding that the situation was handled well.

The remaining members of Rowley’s Cabinet will be sworn in tomorrow morning.


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Keith Rowley’s PNM wins general elections in Trinidadkamla1

FORMER PRIME MINISTER KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR SAYS EXTENDING THE VOTING DEADLINE FOR AN EXTRA HOUR HURT HER COALITION’S VICTORY CHANCES.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging the results of Monday’s general election, contending that the decision by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to extend voting by one hour was unconstitutional and contributed to the People’s Partnership (PP) defeat.

But the EBC has responded, saying it has power under the Constitution to make the decision it did.

In a statement issued yesterday, Persad-Bissessar who leads the United National Congress (UNC) – the main party in the PP coalition – charged that the PP would have won the election had the EBC not given residents more time to vote.

The EBC moved the close of the polls from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Trinidad only, because of heavy rains which caused flooding in some areas. At the end of the count, the People’s National Movement won 23 seats to the PP’s 18, but the former prime minister has insisted that the results be declared null and void.

“The challenge is based on the sudden decision of the EBC to extend the time for voting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the country without any official notification to the People’s Partnership and its constituent parties,” Persad-Bissessar said in the UNC statement.

“Information and data received by the party strongly suggested that the People’s Partnership was comfortably ahead in the polls at 6 p.m. “The march to victory was adversely affected by the sudden unilateral decision by the EBC to extend hours of the poll from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.”

She further charged that many voters were unable to cast their vote after 6 p.m. because EBC officials were themselves unaware or uncertain about the time extension; and there were other citizens who did not know about the extension and therefore did not go to vote past the original 6 p.m. deadline.

Persad-Bissessar insisted that if there needed to be a change, it should have been made with adequate prior notice, and suggested that the EBC could have allowed for continued voting the following day.

She said the legal advice that her party received was that the EBC’s decision undermined the legal framework which governs the conduct of the general election and was tantamount to a “shifting of the political goal post at the end of the game”. That, she said, might have affected the integrity of the process and the results in critical constituencies.

“This is a serious and important violation of the spirit and intention of the Constitution, the Representation of the People’s Act and the election rules. We will therefore file these election petitions to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and justice is done,” Persad-Bissessar said.

Interestingly, the prime minister’s own UNC had sent out messages about the voting extension, and used social media to encourage supporters to use the extra hour to cast their ballots.

kamla twitter backup

Although the post about the extension of voting was subsequently removed from the UNC’s Facebook page, several Facebook users uploaded screen shots of the emails and messages they received after the decision was taken to give voters an extra hour to cast their ballots.

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Responding to the UNC challenge shortly after the statement was issued, the EBC said that Section 71 of the Constitution, which establishes the Elections and Boundaries Commission, mandates its autonomy over the registration of voters and the conduct of elections in every constituency.

“Additionally, the constitution allows the Commission to exercise their powers in an unfettered manner. Therefore, the decision to extend the hours of the poll finds its basis within the constitutional supervisory jurisdiction of the Commission in all election management matters,” Dominic Hinds, manager of corporate communications at the EBC said in the brief release.

Meantime, Persad-Bissessar was retained as UNC leader at a meeting of the party’s national executive yesterday.

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THE RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS AT ITS MEETING HELD YESTERDAY.



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victory

Keith Rowley is Trinidad and Tobago’s new Prime Minister. And he has wasted no time calling for all sides to work together to get the country out of what he says will be tough times ahead.

Rowley had predicted that his People’s National Movement (PNM) would win yesterday’s general election with at least 21 seats. Of the 41 seats up for grabs, the PNM took 23, while the other 18 (11 less than it won in the previous election) went to the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition led by the country’s first female prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

“Throughout our campaign, we have made it quite clear to the population that these are not times of milk and honey, there are difficult times ahead. There are rapids ahead, there is rough water ahead . . . but if we navigate them successfully, there is calm water ahead,” Rowley said in his victory speech at PNM’s Balisier House headquarters.

“Tonight is the wedding; the wedding is a feast, it is a fete. The wedding is the beginning, it is the living that matters. Let’s live together in harmony.”

Sending a message to the United National Congress (UNC) – the main partner in the PP coalition – the 65-year-old Rowley promised there would be no “we versus them” approach.

“We are all in this together. And while we form the government, you of the UNC will form the opposition, but we all expect you to act as a part of the government because your responsibility is awesome. If we accept that we are all in this together, then all of us will come out of our difficulty together,” he said. 


Meantime, UNC leader Persad-Bissessar conceded defeat as she declared she had done her best.

“It was not good enough for some people but in my heart I know I did my best,” she told supporters gathered at her Siparia constituency office. “For now, I am happy to be citizen Kamla and MP for Siparia. I respect the wishes of the people and I wish the new government well.”

The other major contender, the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), lost all 23 seats it contested.

But embattled leader Jack Warner was still jubilant, saying that the mission to get Persad-Bissessar out of office had been accomplished.

“At the end of the day, I made Kamla in 2010 and I broke her in 2015. She will never see another government in our collective lifetime,” he told reporters last night.

As for his own loss in the Chaguanas East constituency, he said: “You win some and you lose some.”

Rowley’s victory came at the end of a day that featured no violence and the voting period being extended by an hour because of inclement weather.

He is the country’s seventh prime minister, and the second one to come from Tobago.

rowley and family

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S NEW PRIME MINISTER KEITH ROWLEY WITH HIS FAMILY AFTER YESTERDAY’S ELECTION VICTORY.

He is expected to be sworn in today

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Comment by Roots aka TJ What De Ras on September 14, 2015 at 9:23am
Wait Karma can fete and get blind drunk in a party as usual
Comment by Loftus on September 13, 2015 at 11:17am

Congrats, to the new PM. I am Caribbean but not Trinidadian and I have a question. Do people vote along racial lines in T-n-T and Guyana? Reason for the question is the large Indian populations in both island/country and the prejudicial/discriminatory behavior of Asian-Indians (not to be confused with American Indians) here in America.

It's an honest question. May someone enlighten me.

Comment by True Trini on September 11, 2015 at 6:27pm
Sore ass loser, Party Done! Go from here!
Comment by Big Woman on September 11, 2015 at 6:05pm
Kamla needs to go somewhere and scratch. She lost! Nobody likes a sore loser!
Congratulations PM Rowley.

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