St Joseph bye-election November 4
By ANDRE BAGOO Saturday, September 28 2013
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Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announces the date for the St Joseph bye-election at yesterday's sitting of the House of Representatives. ...
PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday announced the St Joseph bye-election will take place on Monday, November 4.
The Prime Minister wasted no time in announcing the date yesterday, doing so in Parliament a mere three hours after the seat was formally declared vacant by Speaker Wade Mark.
“I want to advise this honourable house that in keeping with good governance the date for the bye-election shall be November 4, 2013,” Persad-Bissessar told MPs at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
The date falls two days after Divali, which government officials yesterday announced will be celebrated in this country on November 2. However, members of the Hindu community, including Maha Sabha general Secretary Sat Maharaj and Inter-Religious Organisation President Harrypersad Maharaj, said they had no objections to the date.
PNM General Secretary Ashton Ford said the party would work with the date.
“We in the PNM are prepared for an election and we will pursue our commitment to the people,” he said. “While the date is close to Divali, whatever challenges might emerge we will deal with it. We really have to work with whatever date is given to us.”
In a statement to the House, the Prime Minister said while the bye-election now raises the unprecedented situation of four elections in one year, her government would not postpone or defer elections.
“By the end of this year, the Trinidad and Tobago landscape would have been coloured by four separate elections,” the Prime Minister said. “We have already had the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections and the Chaguanas West bye-election. In front of us are the local government elections on October 21 and now, with the declaration of the seat of St Joseph as being vacant, there will also be before us the St Joseph bye-election.”
Persad-Bissessar continued, “This has been a departure from the past when elections have been postponed and deferred because some felt it was not in the interest of the ruling party. The government that I lead will always put the country’s interest first.”
The UNC political leader said every government experiences a mid-term dip and noted there were mechanisms available to her administration to defer elections but they’ve opted against these.
“Despite the universal mid-term dip, the people’s government did not seek to defer any election even though there were mechanisms we could have employed so to do,” Persad-Bissessar said. “We have not used the rights available to us to abuse the people. We did the right thing.
The record will show democracy is strong in Trinidad and Tobago today.”
The Prime Minister yesterday morning returned from a trip to New York where she had addressed the United Nations General Assembly and attended other formal functions in her capacity as chairman of Caricom.
One of the first orders of business upon her return was a briefing from COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar, who had acted as prime minister.
Ramadhar yesterday disclosed to Newsday that one matter discussed at this briefing was the issue of the St Joseph bye-election.
Asked if there is an agreement between the UNC and COP over which party will contest the election, Ramadhar said, “No.”
He continued, “We will be discussing that at the leadership level. In fact, the Prime Minister and I had a conversation on that issue today. But there is no decision on that. However it is clear that that is a matter on which we do not foresee any problem working together on.”
Persad-Bissessar was last night due to address the UNC national executive at a meeting at Rienzi Complex.
* See Page 15A