Trinidad and Tobago will again be under election watch since Prime Minister Patrick Manning today, 8th April, 2010 advised President George Maxwell Richards to dissolve the Parliament with effect from midnight, tonight.
This follows on the heels of Mr. Manning hinting that elections were around the corner, although elections were constitutionally due in more than two years.
Mr. Manning is the leader of the People's National Movement (PNM), and has held the reins of Government since 2001, after being appointed by the then President Arthur N.R Robinson after the republic suffered an 18-18 general election tie, against its chief rival, The United National Congress (UNC).
Addressing a PNM special convention in Chaguaramas, Manning told party supporters that he had been hearing calls from the opposition for him to call a general election ahead of the constitutional deadline of 2012.
Manning told party supporters that he had been hearing calls from the opposition for him to call a general election ahead of the constitutional deadline of 2012 and "I agree with them," he said.
"I agree with them my friends, as a consequence of which I now want to direct the PNM to commence the nomination of candidates exercise for a general election with immediate effect." Mr. Manning has said.
Manning said that the screening process would begin on April 7,2010 in his San Fernando East constituency, amongst screaming supporters.
Elections in Trinidad and Tobago have become somewhat of a staple, as the twin island republic will undergo five elections within the last ten year span. This averages an election every two and a half years. The calling of elections by Prime Minister Patrick Manning is therefore in keeping with the norm of election calling. Trinidadians and Tobagonians have experienced elections of late in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, and now, 2010.
In a timely post at the Barbados Underground Blog entitled - Tremendous Intrigue In Regional Politics, Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist in Barbados (Caribbean sister isle). Stated that although Mr. Manning was hinting at elections, maybe it wouldn't have been such a good idea at this time, when leader of the main Opposition party, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is presently peaking in her popularity.
Mr. Manning will certainly have his hands full during the upcoming elections as he and his People's National Movement will come up against, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, leader of the United National Congress (UNC), and the Winston Dookeran led Congress of the People (COP).
It is expected that the UNC, and the COP will combine forces to fight against the ruling PNM. Prime Minister Patrick Manning might be relying on this occurring, and possibly a later division as both Persad-Bissessar and Dookeran fight for the leadership and by extension the office of prime minister.
As the Parliament will be dissolved from mid-night today, Mr. Manning now has ninety days to name an election date.
It is, however, quite interesting that Mr. Manning has called elections on the eve of a no confidence motion which was to be called against him tomorrow in parliament. Mr. Manning will also be applying for a fourth attempt at the helm of Trinidad and Tobago.
Also of note, is the role the former UNC leader Basdeo Panday will play in the run-up to the day of counting having been a thorn in the side of Persad-Bissessar, interesting days are certainly ahead in the twin island republic. Pop-corn anyone?