Trinidad Opposition Seeks Recount After Win for Ruling Party

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Trinidad and Tobago’s opposition party said it will contest Monday’s parliamentary elections that delivered a narrow victory for Prime Minister Keith Rowley.

The leader of the United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said in a statement her party would contest the vote in three districts. If the UNC prevails, Persad-Bissessar would become the Caribbean nation’s prime minister.

According to the official tally, the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) lost one seat in the 41-seat parliament, but held on to 22. The UNC gained two seats for a total of 19.

While Persad-Bissessar acknowledged the defeat, she said “the battle was so close that we are not officially conceding until we get the results of the recounts we’ve demanded.” She did not say which races would be challenged.

Saddled with growing debt, and the longest recession in the Americas after Venezuela, Rowley, told followers on Monday evening to expect “some difficult days ahead”.

Trinidad’s oil and gas wealth have long given the islands’ 1.4 million residents one of the highest standards of living in the Americas. But the economy contracted in seven of the last ten years and and is smaller now than it was in 2008, amid falling natural gas output and worsening levels of competitiveness.

Prime Minister since 2015, Rowley, 70, said this next term could “easily be my last” and that he plans to groom the next generation of PNP leadership.

The PNM draws most of its support from voters of African descent, while the UNC is mainly supported by people whose ancestors came from Asia.

Candidates from more than 17 other parties failed to win any seats.

If Rowley’s win is confirmed it will end a recent string of Caribbean elections -- including in in Suriname, Guyana and the Dominican Republic -- where ruling parties have been voted out of power.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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