SCARBOROUGH, Tobago, Jan 19, CMC – Voters have started casting their ballots for a new Tobago House of Assembly (THA) following a four week intensive campaign that included Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and senior members of her coalition People’s Partnership government.
The senior Cabinet ministers have been lending support to the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), one of the four partners in the coalition Trinidad and Tobago government, which is seeking to take control of the 12-member THA from the main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM).
But Political observers regard the poll as a referendum on the coalition partnership that came to power in May 2010, and has had “several missteps” over the past two and half years in power.
The PNM had enjoyed an 8-4 majority in the outgoing THA and opinion polls published over the weekend suggest that the party would retain its 12 year hold of the legislative body.
Both the PNM and the Tobago Platform of the People (TPT), headed by former THA Chief Secretary Hochoy Charles, have accused the coalition government of seeking to influence the outcome of the election by introducing legislation to grant further autonomy to Tobago.
Debate on the amendment to the Constitution began last week and Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that it is intended to correct a wrong that has been in existence for more than 100 years.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) said that 46,601 people have been officially registered to vote and that 36 candidates representing the three parties are contesting the elections.