December 24, 2001

New Trinidad prime minister sworn in

                 PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (Reuters) -- Patrick Manning was sworn in as the
                 prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, two weeks after his party
                 and the rival party of the outgoing prime minister tied in a general election.

                 Manning, a 56-year-old petroleum geologist, and former Prime Minister Basdeo
                 Panday agreed to allow President Arthur Robinson choose the oil- and gas-rich
                 Caribbean island's prime minister after their parties each won 18 of the parliament's
                 36 seats.

                 Manning's People's National Movement (PNM) is supported mainly by blacks,
                 while people of East Indian descent support Panday's United National Congress

                 "My decision is that the mantle should now be handed over to Mr. Patrick Manning
                 and I have appointed him as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago," Robinson said
                 in an address to the nation.

                 The decision to appoint Manning is not expected to be easily accepted by
                 supporters of UNC after the Dec. 10 elections in which the majority of the former
                 British colony's 1.3 million people voted along hard ethnic lines.

                 Acknowledging that the other half of the population will be disappointed, Manning,
                 himself a former prime minister, said no one has anything to fear from him as the
                 new leader of the government.

                 "We propose to be equitable as we can in the conduct of our public affairs and we
                 are not in the business of running down individuals but that we propose to provide
                 stability to the country," Manning said minutes after being sworn into office.

                 Panday returned to power in December 2000 elections for a second consecutive
                 term, but snap elections were called after his government effectively lost its major
                 ity in parliament when three dissident members withdrew their support from him.

                 The country's constitution guides the president in choosing a prime minister who
                 controls the majority of seats in parliament, but it offers no guidance in an election

                 Robinson said the decision to appoint a new prime minister was not easy.

                 "I must say I had to turn to the Almighty," he said.

                    Copyright 2001 Reuters.