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Trinidad and Tobago poll: Governing party claims victory

image copyrightReuters
image captionIncumbent Prime Minister Keith Rowley claimed victory
Preliminary results in Trinidad and Tobago's general election suggest the governing People's National Movement (PNM) has won 22 of the 41 seats.
If confirmed, the results mean incumbent Keith Rowley will serve a second term as prime minister.
His rival for the post, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said she intended to demand recounts in at least three constituencies.
Her party, the United National Congress, won 19 seats.
image copyrightReuters
image captionKamla Persad-Bissessar was prime minister before Mr Rowley
The United National Congress (UNC) needed to win at least three more seats than the 17 it had in the 2015 election in order to unseat Mr Rowley.
The preliminary results suggest that it only managed to wrest one seat from Mr Rowley's party and another from the third party, Congress of the People, leaving the PNM with 22 seats and the UNC with 19. The party with the most seats chooses the prime minister.

Keith Rowley

image copyrightReuters
  • Prime minister from 9 September 2015
  • Volcanologist with a PhD in geology
  • Served as an opposition senator in parliament from 1987 to 1990
  • First appointed as a cabinet minister in 1992
  • Was elected party leader in 2010
Official results are expected later on Tuesday.
Mr Rowley gave his victory speech at 22:30 local time (02:30 GMT). In a reference to the coronavirus pandemic, he told a small gathering of supporters that the PNM had prevailed "against all odds, in the most difficult situation".
Trinidad and Tobago has had a relatively low number of confirmed cases, 281, and only eight deaths, but the pandemic nevertheless changed the way the campaign was conducted.
Campaigning was low-key with rallies cancelled and replaced by motorcades.
Supporters were urged not to come to the PNM's headquarters but celebrate at home to avoid the spread of the virus.
The governing party had been praised for its handling of the pandemic but in the two weeks before the polls, the number of infections rose compared to the previous weeks.
The opposition has criticised Mr Rowley's government for not doing more to stem the flow of migrants from Venezuela.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have arrived in Trinidad and Tobago fleeing the political and economic turmoil in their country.
media captionThe Displaced: Venezuelans searching for peace in Trinidad
If the preliminary results are confirmed, Mr Rowley will face the challenge of tackling the economy which has been contracting for seven out of the last 10 years.
His party has said it will diversify Trinidad and Tobago's economy, which has been heavily reliant on petroleum and petrochemicals.

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