EDITORIAL: Trinidad's election important to Jamaica
By heading in a general election more than two years before it is due, Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago is taking a political gamble in which he believes he holds the better hand and ought to reveal it before its quality deteriorates and his opponents have a chance to enhance their own and to trump his suit.
It is an election in whose outcome Jamaica, and particularly the Golding administration - while it remains formally neutral and will studiously adhere to the precepts of non-interference - has a significant stake.
Indeed, it is no secret that Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her United National Congress (UNC) don't much like the Air Jamaica-Caribbean Airlines agreement, as well as other regional initiatives that have recently been enunciated by Prime Minister Manning, including his plan for the construction of an aluminium smelter.
Corrupt and distant
But whatever the preference of Kingston or the capitals of the Caribbean Community, this is an election whose result is far from certain.
Of course, the people of Trinidad and Tobago, too, have concerns about their economic welfare. Last year, in the face of the global turbulence, the Trinidadian economy registered its first decline in 17 years, a dip of three per cent, largely on the back of a more than five per cent downturn in the key energy sector.
But while Trinidad and Tobago has grown wealthier
Uff found questionable contract arrangements and an apparent conflict of interest in expensive deals managed by the UDeCOTT, and that the agency's then executive chairman, Mr Calder Hart, operated with apparent impunity.
There seems, though, to be legitimate questions about whether Mrs Persad-Bissessar who, in January, wrested the party's leadership from its founder, Basdeo Panday, can secure the unity of the UNC to translate the scepticism of the PNM into votes.
A significant bloc of the UNC parliamentary group remains defiantly loyal to Mr Panday, who himself this week accused Mrs Persad-Bissessar of leading a UNC that has lost its way and is "a party of elitists".
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