Trinidad opposition leader makes power sharing proposal
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) -- After a tie in parliamentary elections
sparked a struggle for power, Trinidad's main opposition leader said he would
only consider sharing power with the current governing party if he becomes
It was unclear how Prime Minister Basdeo Panday would respond to the proposal
made Wednesday night by opposition leader Patrick Manning of the opposition
People's National Movement.
"The next prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago must be a PNM prime minister,"
Manning said after a meeting with his party's leaders at their headquarters in the
capital of Port-of-Spain.
Panday suggested the two parties share power after results from Monday's
showed his United National Congress, supported mainly by those of East Indian
descent, tied 18-18 for 36 Parliament seats with the black-based National
However, Panday has not said he would be willing to surrender his leadership.
did not immediately comment on Manning's proposal.
Panday, who was elected the country's first prime minister of East Indian
in 1995, announced he would consider all power-sharing options, including
alternating leadership. After meeting with Cabinet ministers Wednesday, however,
Panday said his proposal did not include relinquishing power.
"While I am offering to share power, not for one moment am I offering to
surrender power," he told The Express newspaper.
The elections sharpened tensions between descendants of African slaves
descendants of East Indian indentured laborers, who almost evenly split the
Panday called the elections four years early after dissent within his party
to end its slim majority in Parliament.
Both the Indian-based governing party and the black-dominated opposition
themselves pro-business and have promised to bring thousands of news jobs in the
next five years.
But the People's National Movement has accused Panday's government of tolerating
corruption and reserving government jobs for those of Indian descent. Panday's
supporters say he has brought economic progress and infrastructure
Analysts say a power-sharing agreement could be the only reasonable option
point without returning to the polls.
"People are looking for a reasonable arrangement to be worked out," said
Ghany, head of the department of behavioral sciences at The University of the West
Indies in Trinidad.
The electoral tie is unprecedented for the twin-island Caribbean nation,
constitution doesn't specify the next step.
Panday said the incumbent prime minister should be allowed to govern, while
Manning insisted it was up to the president to decide.
President Arthur Robinson, a longtime rival of Panday, has the authority
any Parliament member that he believes can command a majority as prime minister.
Robinson has made no public com ments.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.