December 19, 2000

Final election results give prime minister's party second term in Trinidad

                  PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) -- Prime Minister Basdeo Panday's party has won
                  another five years in power in last week's close and racially charged elections, according
                  to final results released Tuesday.

                  Panday's United National Congress, supported mostly by Trinidadians of East Indian descent,
                  won 19 seats; the opposition People's National Movement, with mainly Afro-Trinidadian
                  supporters, won 16 seats, and a third party won one seat. The elections commission
                  announced the results on television Tuesday.

                  The opposition, led by former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, has been threatening a court
                  challenge to two winning candidates in Panday's party, alleging they failed to disclose they
                  were also citizens of other countries.

                  If the opposition pursues its case and wins it could eventually give them a
                  majority in the 36-seat parliament. The leader of the party with the most seats
                  becomes prime minister.

                  Trinidad and Tobago is divided politically between those of East Indian and
                  African descent, which each make up 40 percent of the population. The parties
                  were running neck-and-neck up to election day, and one district needed a
                  recount before making results final.

                  President A.N.R. Robinson has said he would swear in the next prime minister
                  when he receives the final elections results. Spokesman Arnold Corneal said
                  the president had not yet received them.

                  Panday, the country's first Indo-Trinidadian leader, had been urging
                  Robinson to swear him in for another term based on initial results, while the
                  opposition asked to wait until their court case is heard. The opposition has not
                  been able to take their complaint to court until final results were released.

                  "My position has been that I would wait for the information from the Elections
                  and Boundaries Commission," Robinson said. "The whole country knows that I
                  do not yield to pressure when I think what I am doing is right."

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.