A new era has dawned in Trinidad and Tobago politics with Afro-Trinidadian Jack warner, erstwhile chairman of the ruling United National Congress and representative of the Chaguanas West constituency breaking the tradition of tribal voting in the predominantly East Indian constituency by winning the by-election to replace him in parliament.
Warner, who had resigned from the UNC, led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the majority party in the governing People’s Partnership coalition polled 12,642 votes to his opponent, UNC candidate Khadijah Ameen, who received 5,219 voted, according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
Warner — a former CONCACAF official, who had resigned his seat in parliament because of damning allegations of financial impropriety by the world football body’s Ethics Committee in April this year — captured the seat historically held by East Indian-based political parties since the 1950s.
Persad-Bissessar and her cabinet ministers had spearheaded Ameen throughout the campaign over the past month but failed to convince the electorate to vote for the UNC.
Warner, who represented Chaguanas West for the past six years, campaigned on his track-record of performance.
The opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate Avinash Singh, received 421 votes.
In his victory speech Warner said: ”It wasn’t easy…like David and Goliath 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.. Chaguanas West now points the way for the rest of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Persad-Bissessar, in reflecting on the party’s loss, congratulated Warner but focused on her party’s majority in Parliament, saying, “We’re still the government and the government remains strong.”
“You win some, you lose some, but we remain in government… there are many days to come and this too shall pass.” she said.
Warner now returns to the seat in Parliament he occupied up to April when he resigned. His victory has now reduced the PP coalition to 29 seats and puts a new Independent party in the Parliament alongside the ruling PP and the opposition PNM.