The suspense is over—election day’s August 10.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the election date just after 3 pm in Parliament on Friday.
With his announcement, Parliament was dissolved at midnight Friday.
Nomination Day is July 17. At that time, candidates from the various parties contesting the polls will submit their documentation to Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) officers in the 41 constituencies.
Rowley produced the election date yesterday at the end of the Parliament’s series of sittings for the first half of the year. Parliament was due to go on its annual mid-year recess from yesterday. The recess is normally taken from the first week of July until September.
The PM’s announcement was made at the conclusion of land acquisition matters and Opposition questions he’d replied to earlier in the sitting. When those were completed, Leader of Government’s (Lower House) Business Camille Robinson-Regis announced: “I beg to move that this House be now adjourned sine die.”
Adjournment sine die means to adjourn for an indefinite period.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar appeared excited when announcement of the adjournment was given. She was asked by House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George about matters the Opposition had on the agenda before the sitting ended.
Persad-Bissessar noted the Parliament had adjourned sine die. She said firmly, “It means the Parliament has dissolved...nothing further will be done.”
PNM MPs loudly protested her statement and UNC MPs replied in same.
Rowley, preparing to deliver his election date statement, said, “I’m amazed at the ability of my colleague from Siparia to cause disruption...I welcome her back to the Chamber but she created disturbance.”
He launched his address praising House Speaker Annisette-George.
“We have come to the end of a term. As we’re about to take this recess, where you have stood, I must say, womanfully in that chair and you’ve provided us with guidance, warning, slight expulsion but at the end of the day it was a pleasure serving under your hand in this Parliament and I look forward in associating with you in some way, maybe this way or another way in the future; your tenure having been so distinguished,” Rowley said.
“On this day, July 3, 2020, I’m to advise all my colleagues I have advised her Excellency the President to dissolve the Parliament at midnight (last night).
“Nomination day would be Friday, July 17 and polling day would be August 10, 2020.”
Rowley concluded, “I wish all my colleagues a safe happy, enjoyable productive campaign and I look forward to seeing all of them somewhere in T&T before the next Parliament.’’
Witnessing the announcement were the majority of PNM’s 23 MPs—save for Marlene McDonald, Ancil Antoine and Darryl Smith.
Also present were the majority of UNC MPs. Absent were Prakash Ramadhar, Fuad Khan, Christine Newallo-Hosein, Suruj Rambachan and Barry Padarath, who’s overseas.
After the sitting, Persad-Bissessar, who said she was happy and excited, added the country was “waiting to exhale.” She said UNC’s candidates would be presented tomorrow.
UNC has completed screening for the 39 Trinidad constituencies it’s contesting and announced 17 candidates so far, UNC PRO Anita Haynes said.
The PNM completed screening for its final seat—PoS South—on Thursday but all other candidates have been campaigning since they were announced from May onwards. PNM’s candidates will be ratified by its Central Executive on Monday. PNM lady vice-chairman Camille Robinson-Regis couldn’t say when PNM’s campaign will launch.
The dissolution of the 11th Parliament last night comes almost two months before the end of the term in September. The August 10 election date is, however, three weeks before the end of the term
The PNM won the last elections on September 7, 2015. Parliament’s first sitting was held September 23, 20115. The past People’s Partnership administration had called general polls in September 2015—three months after the May 24 date of its 2010 victory.
CHANGES TO POLLING DIVISIONS FOR VOTERS
Voters will be going to the polls where changes are being made to 12 of the 41 constituencies—shifting some polling stations into different constituencies.
This is contained in the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s draft order passed in Parliament a few months ago
• Two polling divisions are being transferred from Couva North to Couva South
• Three Toco/Sangre Grande polling divisions are going into Cumuto/Manzanilla
• One Laventille West polling division is going to Laventille East/Morvant
• One Oropouche East polling division is going to Oropouche West
• Two Port of Spain Southpolling divisions will go Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West and one polling division to Laventille West
• Two polling divisions will be transferred from San Fernando East to San Fernando West.
The T&T electorate stood at around 1.5 million recently.