“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
Rowley’s re-elected! That’s the obvious outcome following last night’s PNM’s internal elections results showing incumbent political leader Keith Rowley sailing to victory over challenger Pennelope Beckles-Robinson. Results started coming into Balisier House elections commission from 9.33 pm with Rowley leading all the way. At 10.36 pm PNM elections commission vice chairman Murchison Browne said Rowley was leading in 11 constituencies and had 95 per cent of the votes cast.
Browne said up to that time Rowley had a total of 3,505 votes to Beckles-Robinson’s 203. Speaking at 9.55 pm, Rowley, wearing his signature white captain’s hat, had also said he was very optimistic. Rowley said the election had given lie to statements that people were not interested in the exercise and the election had the look and feel of a general election. He said for a party operating with volunteers, it was “quite a logistical experience.”
Rowley congratulated all fellow party members “especially those who were candidates and offered themselves” for the competition.
Team Rowley was so confident of a victory that supporters started gathering at PNM’s Balisier House headquarters from 7 pm, and a stage, DJ and platform were also set up for a celebration from early in the night. It began before Rowley arrived with jubilation breaking out as the numbers in favour of Rowley started rolling in. Among those present were MP Paula Gopee -Scoon and members of the incumbent team.
At Beckles-Robinson’s headquarters in Valsayn, however, it was a different mood. Beckles-Robinson had not arrived up to 10 pm. She was said to be arriving at the office around 11 pm. Team Penny supporter Laventille West MP Nileung Hypolite asked at 10.34 pm if the team would concede said, “ I prefer to wait until the last vote is counter before any such statement. There are 41 constituencies.”
“I’m very proud of her and each member of her team. She took it on herself and went forward to contest the position,” Asked if he would support another leader, Hypolite said he is a PNM member and whoever the leader is he would support.
PNM’s Faris Al Rawi, who basically declared a victory for Rowley, lauded Beckles- Robinson’s courage to have stepped foward. He said Beckles-Robinson and her team should be thanked as everyone had taken the PNM to a new stage . He acknowledged there were internal issues but added it was a “tremendous experience.” Al Rawi said PNM is now on to general election preparations. Results for the post of political leader were the first to be finalised after voting closed at 6 pm.
The result for the post of political leader which some quarters had easily predicted,was the end of a three month campaign with accusations flying on all sides. PNM election commission Charles Mitchell said votes for the other 14 executive posts were being done after that, and final results for all of these were expected by 1 am or 2 am today. Over 81,500 members were listed to vote in the one-man-one/one-vote system which was used for the first time by the PNM.
Mitchell said there was a 20 to 30 per cent turnout. He said he was satisfied with the response which would have been the level of response wanted. Mitchell said they estimated it would have been this level. He said the PNM had gotten levels better than the UNC and he had received calls of congratulation from members of Team Penny as well as Team Rowley. Highest voter turnouts were in the Diego Martin constituencies, San Fernando and St Joseph, he added.
Mitchell, who acknowledged “glitches” in the systems, said these mainly involved the way the list was constructed. he He said some people changed residence and were in different areas to where they had been registered. He said this would be rectified and names would be placed in the appropriate polling divisions. He said. however. the party had security at all stations and there had been no reports of any confrontations.
Mitchell said it was the first time it had been used and it had taken a lot work. He said some changes could certainly be expected in connection with the system in future. Mitchell said a post-election report would be delivered to PNM’s General Council. A total of 34 candidates contested the poll. A full slate of 15 from Team Rowley, 13 from Team Penny and six Independents. Several Independents had said they were supporting Rowley.
The first set of results
• Barataria- San Juan - Rowley (336), Beckles- Robinson (53)
• Caroni East - Rowley (119), Beckles -Robinson(8)
•Chaguanas West - Rowley (109), Beckles- Robinson (2)
•Diego Martin West - Rowley (803), Beckles-Robinson (24)
•Moruga - Tableland - Rowley (426), Beckles- Robinson (14)
•Princes Town - Rowley (255), Beckles-Robinson (21).
•Naparima - Rowley (61), Beckles-Robinson (10).
•Lopinot /Bon Air - Rowley (456), Beckles (19).
•San Fernando West - Rowley (509), Beckles - Robinson (72).
•St Joseph - Rowley (554), Beckles-Robinson (19).