Manning's big secret
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Prime Minister Patrick Manning kept the nation guessing on Monday night as to the date for the snap general election but told supporters that they should be prepared for "many more nights" of the campaign.
There had been much speculation that Manning would have announced the date for the election during the official launch of his ruling People's National Movement (PNM) campaign, but instead the Prime Minister told supporters gathered in the St Augustine constituency, along the east-west corridor, that they should not take God out of their minds and vote the opposition into power.
Manning called the election two and a half years before it is constitutionally due, telling supporters that he needed a fresh mandate to continue the socio-economic policies of his outgoing administration.
2007 win for pnm
In the 2007 general election, the PNM won 26 of the 41 seats at stake. The other 15 went to the main opposition United National Congress that has now entered into a partnership with the Congress of the People party to contest the polls.
Declaring himself the "most vilified" prime minister in the history of the twin-island republic, Manning ended his 40-minute address on Monday night with little hint as to when the date of the elections would be announced.
"I don't want to overdo it, there will be many more nights," was the closest he came to announcing the date.
Political analyst Derek Ramsamooj told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) yesterday, that the delay may be as a result of the ruling party not yet able to finalise its slate of candidates, particularly as it relates to the former housing minister Dr Keith Rowley, who was dismissed from the Manning cabinet in 2008.
Rowley is the only person nominated to contest the Diego Martin West constituency and he was expected to face the party's screening committee, chaired by Manning, yesterday.
"The challenge of resolving the candidacy of Dr Rowley would indeed be contributing to the delay in calling the election date.
"Mr Manning's previous experiences of removing strong incumbent candidates would reveal the application of diplomatic politics as opposed to crude severing," Ramsamooj said.
In the 2007 general election, the PNM left out a number of incumbents, including Manning's then deputy and senior Cabinet minister Ken Valley.
Meanwhile, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) said that more than one million persons had been registered to vote in the election.
The EBC said that it would continue the registration process until April 20 in all 41 constituencies, but Fitzgerald said that there were also other concerns facing the EBC.