PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuesday September 8, 2015 – Keith Rowley is Trinidad and Tobago’s new Prime Minister. And he has wasted no time calling for all sides to work together to get the country out of what he says will be tough times ahead.
Rowley had predicted that his People’s National Movement (PNM) would win yesterday’s general election with at least 21 seats. Of the 41 seats up for grabs, the PNM took 23, while the other 18 (11 less than it won in the previous election) went to the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition led by the country’s first female prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
“Throughout our campaign, we have made it quite clear to the population that these are not times of milk and honey, there are difficult times ahead. There are rapids ahead, there is rough water ahead . . . but if we navigate them successfully, there is calm water ahead,” Rowley said in his victory speech at PNM’s Balisier House headquarters.
“Tonight is the wedding; the wedding is a feast, it is a fete. The wedding is the beginning, it is the living that matters. Let’s live together in harmony.”
Sending a message to the United National Congress (UNC) – the main partner in the PP coalition – the 65-year-old Rowley promised there would be no “we versus them” approach.
— Juhel Browne (@trinijournalist) September 8, 2015
“We are all in this together. And while we form the government, you of the UNC will form the opposition, but we all expect you to act as a part of the government because your responsibility is awesome. If we accept that we are all in this together, then all of us will come out of our difficulty together,” he said.
Meantime, UNC leader Persad-Bissessar conceded defeat as she declared she had done her best.
“It was not good enough for some people but in my heart I know I did my best,” she told supporters gathered at her Siparia constituency office. “For now, I am happy to be citizen Kamla and MP for Siparia. I respect the wishes of the people and I wish the new government well.”
— CCN TV6 (@tv6tnt) September 8, 2015
The other major contender, the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), lost all 23 seats it contested.
But embattled leader Jack Warner was still jubilant, saying that the mission to get Persad-Bissessar out of office had been accomplished.
“At the end of the day, I made Kamla in 2010 and I broke her in 2015. She will never see another government in our collective lifetime,” he told reporters last night.
As for his own loss in the Chaguanas East constituency, he said: “You win some and you lose some.”
Rowley’s victory came at the end of a day that featured no violence and the voting period being extended by an hour because of inclement weather.
He is the country’s seventh prime minister, and the second one to come from Tobago.
He is expected to be sworn in today.