PNM and UNC supporters interact with each other along the SS Erin Road in Penal, where their candidates were filing nomination papers for the August 10 General Election on yesterday.

Carnival atmosphere with no heed for COVID caution!

That was how yesterday’s Nomination Day exercises for General Election candidates went down in a number of constituencies.

By the end of the day when crowds dispersed, it was estimated that 14-plus parties and over 136 candidates will be contesting the August 10 election.

And one of the biggest contests will be in San Fernando West where there’s a five-way fight.

Candidates contesting the election filed their nomination papers with the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s returning officers from the 41 constituencies. Candidates also each paid the required $5,000 deposit.

The EBC’s Communication Division stated last night that the official number of parties and candidates would be released today.

In yesterday’s exercise, many candidates were accompanied to returning officers’ locations by groups of enthusiastic supporters in respective party colours, music trucks, African drums, tassa and rhythm sections. People’s National Movement and United National Congress flags and colours overlapped in some places where the numbers were thick.

But the activity was almost all minus masks and sans social distancing required by COVID regulations. This although the National Security Ministry had issued a notice on Thursday alerting the public and political parties to heed COVID regulations. That included limiting gatherings to 25. However, figures beyond 25 were seen at various locations.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s entourage in Diego Martin West was accompanied by a music truck. Rowley yesterday accused Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar of making racially charged remarks about him at a UNC meeting on Thursday.

Persad-Bissessar, in Siparia was escorted by tassa and dancing supporters. She rejected concerns about Couva North candidate Ravi Ratiram and denied he’d been withdrawn earlier yesterday.

In St Joseph, PNM’s Terrence Deyalsingh, heading to file his nomination papers, was seen energetically beating tassa amid the noisy throng.

In Oropouche East, UNC MP Roodal Moonilal was accompanied by a furry-suited lion mascot and vintage bright yellow car.

Only PNM with full slate

The ruling PNM is the only party which produced the full slate of 41 candidates.

PNM PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing confirmed that all 41 candidates completed filing papers by midday without problems.

UNC PRO Anita Haynes said all their candidates also completed the process. The UNC is only fielding candidates for the 39 Trinidad constituencies—and not Tobago. The party on Thursday mounted a unity call for other parties opposed to the PNM to unite with the UNC but several parties gave that the cold shoulder yesterday.

An election agent filed documents for UNC’s quarantined Princes Town incumbent Barry Padarath. He said he’ll be out on the campaign trail very soon.

Independent Liberal Party leader Jack Warner filed nomination for Lopinot/Bon Air West—making it a three-way fight there with PNM and UNC. It’s his return to electoral politics since 2014 but he’d been involved with ILP all the while since then.

Congress of the People leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said four of their five candidates were approved. A fifth, Anthony de Four (PoS North), didn’t get through.

Checks indicated that the biggest fight will be in San Fernando West where there is a five-way race among PNM, UNC, Progressive Empowerment Party, Progressives and National Party candidates.

Among other marginals – pending EBC final figures – the race is expected to stand as the following: Toco/Sangre Grande (PNM/UNC), St Joseph (PNM/UNC/Independents), San Juan Barataria (PNM/UNC/ PEP).

There’s a three-way fight in Tobago East and a five-way race in Tobago West.

There may also be a four-way fight in St Augustine (PNM/UNC/COP/PEP). Independents weren’t confirmed yet.

There’s a four-way fight in several places including Laventille West (PNM, UNC, COP, NOW).

Unrepresented People’s Party (UPP) PoS North candidate Kenneth Munroe-Browne said his party’s attorney Matthew Gale will begin legal action against Government next week for failing to meet them to discuss exemption for their campaign manager, who’s in South Africa. He said the action wasn’t meant to halt the election but compel Government to meet on the matter.

The People’s National Movement doors are wide open!

So said PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley last night as the party officially launched all of its candidates via a virtual platform presentation.

Rowley said people were surprised that his Government had invited ex-People’s Partnership ministers Winston Dookeran and Vasant Bharath to join the Recovery Roadmap team. But he said the PNM was open to anyone who subscribed to the party’s principles.

He joked that the United National Congress’ Bhoe Tewarie – who assisted with the PNM’s Vision 2020 plan years ago – had gotten knocked off the UNC’s fence (as a candidate). He said Tewarie had been invited to join the Recovery team but didn’t accept. But he said there might be another opportunity.

Rowley said PNM was proud that it had presented a full slate and promised hard work for the younger ones.

He also said nobody could accuse the PNM of making deals with contractors.

“This Prime Minister is beholden to no one but the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

The UNC launches its team today, where leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar will speak.

People’s National Movement – 41

United National Congress – 39

People’s Empowerment Party – 31

New National Vision – 7

Movement for Social Justice – 5

Congress of the People – 4

Movement for National Development – 3

Progressive Democratic Patriots – 2 in Tobago

Progressives Party – 1 San Fernando West

The National Party – 1 San Fernando West

National Coalition for Transformation – 1 (Nalini Dial – Arima)

Nationwide Organisation of We the People – 1 ( Kirk Waithe – Laventille West)

Democratic Party of T&T – 1 (Steve Alvarez – Moruga)

Unrepresented Peoples Party (UPP) – Kenneth Munroe Browne (PoS North)

Independents – Nazma Muller (Arouca/Maloney), Errol Fabien (St Joseph)