?Although the unity agreement has not yet been signed by the three leaders, the Opposition parties have worked out their seat arrangements for the May 24 general election. As it stands now, United National Congress (UNC) will contest 22 seats, Congress of the People (COP), 17, and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), the island's two seats. According to sources, the three main parties will battle with the ruling People's National Movement (PNM) in a one-to-one fight in the 41 constituencies throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The UNC and COP have been meeting for the last week to hammer out the agreement for the snap election. They finally reached an agreement on Thursday night, and although UNC's Kamla Persad-Bissessar and COP's Winston Dookeran met on Friday for three hours, the agreement was not signed. Up to last night they were ironing out the deal.
The UNC and COP agreed to fight the PNM on a joint platform. The joint platform will be launched on Wednesday night at a venue along the East-West Corridor. Sources said they would like to launch in Port-of-Spain. Sources revealed there will be one manifesto, one strategy and joint financing of the campaign. It was also agreed that Persad-Bissessar would become the prime minister if the accommodation is successful. The UNC has held on to 14 of its 15 seats which it now has–Caroni Central, Caroni East, Chaguanas West, Couva North, Couva South, Cumuto/Manzanilla, Fyzabad, Mayaro, Naparima, Oropouche East, Oropouche West, Princes Town North, Siparia, and Tabaquite. The UNC has surrendered the St Augustine seat to the COP, ruling out Vasant Bharath from returning to the constituency, and actually paving the way for attorney Prakash Ramadar to contest the seat.
Sources said Dookeran would not contest the elections, and there were all indications that should the Opposition form the next government, Dookeran would become the next President in 2012. The UNC wants to contest the elections in the following constituencies: Arouca/Maloney, Barataria/San Juan, Chaguanas East, Pointe-a-Pierre, Port-of-Spain North/St Ann's West, Princes Town South/Tableland, St Joseph, and Toco/Sangre Grande. The UNC has screened a number of potential candidates, six of whom have already been chosen: Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Siparia), Jack Warner (Chaguanas West), Winston "Gypsy" Peters (Mayaro), Clifton de Couteau (Princes Town South/Tableland), Dr Fuad Khan (Barataria/San Juan), and Roodal Moonilal (Oropouche East).
The COP will contest 17 seats: Arima, D'Abadie/O'Meara, Diego Martin West, Diego Martin Central, Diego Martin North/East, La Brea, La Horquetta/Talparo, Laventille East/Morvant, Laventille West, Lopinot/Bon Air West, Point Fortin, Port-of-Spain South, San Fernando East, San Fernando West, St Ann's East, St Augustine, and Tunapuna. Sources revealed that the COP planned to put a leading member of the legal profession in Tunapuna, to take on Education Minister Esther Le Gendre. COP also intended to put up as candidates two of the country's leading trade unionists, Ancel Roget and David Abdulah. The agreement also leaves TOP to fight the PNM for the Tobago East and West seats. The agreement also states that Tobago will get full autonomy, once the Opposition forms the next government.