With the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) just under two months away, political parties on the island are ramping up their election preparation.
The second THA election this year will be held on December 6, after a deadlock in the January election with the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) each capturing six electoral districts.
Since then, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has created three new electoral districts on the island.
Both the PNM and the PDP, along with the newly-formed Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA) will contest all 15 seats on December 6.
IDA, launched in August, has started screening candidates and has selected five candidates so far.
In an interview with Guardian Media, the party’s political leader, Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus said the five candidates were selected on October 8.
She said the party will announce five more candidates soon.
However, Tsoiafatt-Angus said the selected candidates have not yet been assigned to an electoral district.
“Some candidates can run in more than one area so we are testing their strengths,” she said.
She said the party has screened ten candidates so far and the response from potential candidates has been “good.”
As for the voters, Tsioafatt-Angus said they were beginning to accept the party.
“The electorate is warming up to the third choice. In fact, we launched the IDA LIVE weekly programme but immediately had to move to twice weekly by demand.”
Tsiofatt-Angus said during the first weekly programme, IDA discussed the Safe Zone disputes. On October 11, the Government allowed certain sectors of the business community that were previously closed (such as cinemas, bars, gyms, etc) to reopen to only vaccinated patrons.
Tsoiafatt-Angus gave IDA’s stance on the creation of safe zones.
“The initiative has not been thought through on many levels. It appears to be just a ploy to have persons vaccinated. The approach ought to be a holistic education programme brought to people in their communities and then respecting persons’ personal choice thereafter,” she said.
She said it was confusing that people were being encouraged into closed ventilation areas while open areas like beaches continue to be restricted.
Asked whether IDA supports vaccination against COVID-19, Tsoiafatt said, “IDA supports RESPECT FOR PERSONAL CHOICE and empowering persons to practice personal responsibility for their health.”
She said both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons can get and transmit COVID.
While this is accurate, the COVID-19 vaccines protect against serious illness and hospitalisation from the COVID-19. Those who remain unvaccinated run the risk of becoming seriously ill and possibly dying from COVID-19 and its variants.
From the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) camp, political leader Watson Duke said the party was still in the process of screening candidates.
The Tobago council of the People’s National Movement (PNM) announced on Tuesday that ten of its 15 candidates have already been selected.
Political leader Tracey Davidson-Celestine said the screening of the remaining potential candidates would be completed today (Thursday) and the party will subsequently announce its remaining five candidates.
The other political party in Tobago, the Unity of the People led by Nickocy Phillips has not revealed what seats it may be contesting this time around.