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Warner wallops Ameen

Green Day Dawns
Published: 
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Re-elected Chaguanas West MP Austin Jack Warner acknowledges the cheers of supporters after being declared winner of yesterday’s by-election last night. PHOTO: ANDY HYPOLITE

Jack’s back.  Jack Warner regained Chaguanas West with 12,642 votes in yesterday’s by-election, beating his opponent, the UNC’s Khadijah Ameen, resoundingly—two to one. Warner, who resigned as Chaguanas West MP in April, returns to the Parliament on Friday when the new parliamentary term opens, making history as an Afro-Trinidadian leader who has captured a seat historically held by East Indian-based parties since the 1950s. “A new era has dawned,” Warner said, claiming victory at 9.30 pm last night. “It wasn’t easy...like David we came up against the might of Goliath, an entire government, and we won. Chaguanas West has demonstrated I’m in their best interest...Chaguanas West now points the way for the rest of T&T.” Voters rejected Ameen, the candidate fielded by the party in power, the UNC and the coalition PP Government, as well as Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who had shepherded Ameen throughout her campaign. 

 

 

Ameen received 5,129 votes, according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s preliminary figures last night. EBC returning officer Everard Ross said the People’s National Movement’s Avinash Singh received 421 votes. The Democratic National Assembly’s Kirk Meighoo obtained 35 votes and the National Coalition for Transformation’s Oliver Browne 21. The EBC estimated 67 per cent of the 27,052 electors voted.  Persad-Bissessar, speaking at 9.45 pm, after Warner claimed victory, offered brief congratulations to him, but focused on her party’s position, saying, “We’re still the Government and the Government remains strong. “You win some and you lose some, but we remain in Government ...t here are many days to come and this too shall pass.” Both the PM and Ameen acknowledged some introspection was needed. Ameen said UNC would continue to work in Chaguanas West. COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, who acknowledged Warner’s victory well before the UNC statements, deemed the result “the most dangerous development in T&T politics.” Ramadhar called for an urgent meeting of all members of the ruling partnership.

 

 

Warner now returns to the seat he occupied up to April, when he resigned as MP. His victory has now further reduced the PP coalition’s 29 seats and puts a new Independent party in the Parliament alongside the ruling PP and Opposition PNM. The PP’s seats were reduced last year when St Joseph MP Herbert Volney removed himself from the PP whip and  described himself as Independent. Volney has promised to join Warner. Yesterday, Volney said Warner would likely be sitting next to him on the Parliament backbench behind the Opposition PNM. Last night the Prime Minister also spoke with some concern about the number of seats the partnership  now holds. In last night’s results, Warner was ahead of Ameen from the time the results from the first polling station arrived around 7.30 pm. By 8.15 pm, UNC officials at the Chaguanas West office admitted to the T&T Guardian that Warner was leading in almost all the stations, two and sometimes three to one.   

 

By 8.30 pm, figures showed Warner was strongly in the lead in results from 10 stations and by 8.45 pm concern had arisen in the UNC camp, where some ministers had initially expressed confidence. Some distance away at the ILP camp, however, celebrations had broken out since 8.30 pm and continued after Warner gave his victory speech at 9.30 pm. Warner’s victory, coming at the PP’s three-year mark, has heightened speculation about the future of the partnership and who may cross the floor or go independent, joining him. Last night, among the first to congratulate Warner around 9 pm was UNC MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who was at Warner’s camp in an orange jersey. Before Warner’s victory, several MPs—including Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan—said they would not leave the PP to join Warner. Those who declined comment included Peters, who has been at Warner’s side on platforms since he resigned, and the COP’s Anil Roberts. Also mum have been Tobago West MP Delmon Baker and COP MP Rodger Samuel, who is expected to announce whether he will still within the Office of the PM after he concludes a period of fasting he started last week.

 

Persad-Bissessar, speaking at 9.45 pm, after Warner claimed victory, offered brief congratulations to him, but focused on her party’s position, saying, “We’re still the Government and the Government remains strong. “You win some and you lose some, but we remain in Government ...t here are many days to come and this too shall pass.” Both the PM and Ameen acknowledged some introspection was needed. Ameen said UNC would continue to work in Chaguanas West. COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, who acknowledged Warner’s victory well before the UNC statements, deemed the result “the most dangerous development in T&T politics.” Ramadhar called for an urgent meeting of all members of the ruling partnership. Warner now returns to the seat he occupied up to April, when he resigned as MP. His victory has now further reduced the PP coalition’s 29 seats and puts a new Independent party in the Parliament alongside the ruling PP and Opposition PNM. 

 

The PP’s seats were reduced last year when St Joseph MP Herbert Volney removed himself from the PP whip and  described himself as Independent. Volney has promised to join Warner. Yesterday, Volney said Warner would likely be sitting next to him on the Parliament backbench behind the Opposition PNM. Last night the Prime Minister also spoke with some concern about the number of seats the partnership  now holds. In last night’s results, Warner was ahead of Ameen from the time the results from the first polling station arrived around 7.30 pm. By 8.15 pm, UNC officials at the Chaguanas West office admitted to the T&T Guardian that Warner was leading in almost all the stations, two and sometimes three to one. 

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