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
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
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,
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
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
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.