Trinidad's president dissolves Parliament
The order to dissolve Parliament was signed "acting in accordance with
from the prime minister," said a written statement from President Arthur N.R.
Prime Minister Basdeo Panday has asked that elections be held on December
nearly four years ahead of schedule. But it was unclear if Robinson would approve
the date, given his repeated questioning of the accuracy of voter lists.
By law, however, elections must come within three months after the Parliament
The Parliament's dissolution comes after weeks of political discord in Trinidad.
Earlier this month, Panday fired two ministers from his Cabinet, while
For months, the three members of the governing United National Congress
had clashed publicly with Panday over alleged corruption at state hospitals and the
state oil company, Petrotrin.
The renegade ministers then joined in an alliance with the opposition People's
National Movement to give it a 19 to 16 majority in the Parliament, where the
alliance succeeded in blocking legislation last week.
Panday issued a call for new elections on Wednesday, but then he encountered
another political hurdle.
Robin son -- who occupies a largely ceremonial post -- for days refused
the Parliament, citing concerns that voter lists needed revisions.
After general elections last December, which Panday's party narrowly won,
opposition accused the governing party of registering hundreds of voters in districts
where they did not live.
Since then, tensions have been high between Panday, who is of East Indian
descent, and Robinson, who is black.
Elections and Boundary Commission Chairman Oswald Wilson has said he intends
to remove 100,000 of 900,000 registered voters because they are listed at the
He said a new, preliminary voter list would be made public next month,
voters removed could reregister with correct addresses.
Oil and natural gas-rich Trinidad and Tobago is charged with racial tensions
would dominate any elections. Panday's party is supported mainly by
Indo-Trinidadians descended from indentured laborers imported after slavery was
outlawed. The opposition is dominated by blacks.
Panday became Trinidad's first prime minister of East Indian descent in
ending decades of political domination by Afro-Trinidadians.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.