Battle For Tobago

Two sets of elections on today – but the big battle is in Tobago.

And a total of 83,413 people eligible to go to the polls in Tobago and in five corporation seats in Trinidad will be operating under strict COVID- 19 guidelines.

The Elections and Boundaries Commissions (EBC) has stated that tomorrow’s Tobago House of Assembly polls and the five bye-elections in Trinidad will be governed by the COVID regulations as was done with the August 10 general election.

Polls open 6 am and close 6 pm.

EBC Communication Manager Bobbie Roger said today, “Key for all to remember is that wearing of a mask is mandatory – masks are the law.”

“Just as for the 2020 general elections, if a voter doesn’t have a mask, one will be provided by EBC for them.”

Social distancing and sanitising will be in force at all polling stations.

Rogers added, “We also remind the public it’s an election day and everyone should conform to election day law.”

These included a halt on campaigning and alcohol sale .

Tomorrow’s Tobago election is the 11th THA poll to fill the 12 seats in the assembly.

The five bye-elections are being held to fill vacancies after three PNM and two UNC councillors went on to become Members of Parliament following the August 2020 General Election.

They were former PNM councillors Lisa Morris Julien (Arima Central), Kennedy Ricards (Hollywood, Point Fortin) and Symon de Nobriga (Morne Coco/ Alyce Glen) and former UNC councillors Vandana Mohit (Cunupia) and Michelle Benjamin (Hindustan St Mary’s)

Tobago’s electorate stands at 51, 062, an increase from the 2016 figure of 48,677.

Largest electorate is in Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden ( 4,554 ). Lowest is Parlatuvier/L’Anse Forumi/ Speyside (3772) .

A total of 32, 351 are eligible to vote in the five bye-election areas. Those electorates comprise : Arima Central (4,147 voters ), Cunupia (8,318), Hindustan/St Mary’s ( 8,723), Hollywood ( 2,748), Morne Coco /Alyce Glen (8,415).

Test of Tobago leaders

The Peoples’ National Movement , celebrating its 65th anniversary today, held motorcades throughout Tobago, headed by PNM leader Prime Minister Keith Rowley. The Progressive Democratic Patriots also held motorcades .

In Trindad , the UNC held “swing-bys” and inter -faith services , UNC deputy leader Jearlen John confirmed.

Tomorrow’s election spotlight falls heavily on Tobago where 28 candidates are competing for the 12 THA seats – and several “big fights” are featured.

The PNM and PDP fielded candidates in all twelve electoral districts.

The Class Action Reform Movement and the Unity of the People, each fielded one candidate in the race for the Buccoo/Mt. Pleasant seat.

There are also two Independent candidates- one each in the electoral districts of Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden and Scarborough/Calder Hall.

Independent Black Rock/Whim /Spring Garden candidate Anthony Hector suffered a stroke during the election period but pressed on .

Battlegrounds are in the Charlotteville and Roxborough seats which the PDP wrested from the PNM in 2016 and which PNM is seeking to retake, along with retaining the 10 it held.

While PNM’s called for Tobagonians to give the party a “birthday gift” – after today’s 65th anniversary celebration – both PNM and PDP were said to be deadlocked in terms of support in the Charlotteville and Roxborough seats last Friday, with PDP also targeting the Belle Garden seat.

Another key seat is Scarborough /Calder Hall where there’s a three fight involving former PNMite Denise Tsoiafatt Angus plus PNM’s Marcellin Jack, and PDP’s Trevor James. A four- way fight will be underway in Buccoo/Mt Pleasant.

Allegations of corruption, “backdoor” ties to other parties and last term’s Tobago problems flew from all sides throughout campaigning.

The elections will also test new political arrangements and leaderships in Tobago .

PNM Tobago leader Tracey Davidson Celestine succeeded Orville London . PNM’s particularly striving to win all 12 seats to boost her leadership and Chief Secretary bid . She’s contesting in Lambeau- Signal Hill which PNMites consider a “safe seat”

Overall, both elections in T& T are a test for Rowley whose party in last year’s general election lost Moruga to UNC. Despite a recent angioplasty, Rowley who heads the campaign team, led campaigning in the last week. He’ll be in Tobago tonight.

Several PNM “field generals” – including Joan Yuille- Williams, Ministers Pennelope Beckles and Donna Cox, Udecott chairman , Noel Garcia assisted.

PNM’s key challenger PDP, is operating with a new arrangement – alongside Tobago Forwards – and is now helmed by Farley Augustine who replaced Watson Duke.