Trinidad and Tobago sets early election May 24

* PM Patrick Manning’s party accused of mismanaging money

* Manning calls election early to renew party’s mandate

By Linda Hutchinson-Jafar

PORT OF SPAIN, April 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Trinidad and Tobago
Prime Minister Patrick Manning set general elections for May 24
to seek a new mandate for his People’s National Movement amid
accusations of mismanaging public funds.

Manning’s office announced the election date on Friday, a
week after the prime minister dissolved Parliament midway
through his administration’s five-year term.

He faces a strong challenge from the current opposition
party, the United National Congress (UNC), which has joined
forces with the fringe opposition party, the Congress of the
People (COP).

Whoever wins control of the 41-seat Parliament will form
the next government in the southern Caribbean nation whose
economy depends heavily on oil and gas production.

Manning, 64, has ruled Trinidad and Tobago for 13 of the
past 17 years but has been under pressure over accusations of
corruption and mismanaging public money.

He was widely criticized for spending millions of dollars
to host of the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meetings last year, events that critics
said had produced no tangible benefits for the country.

Manning vigorously defended his policies and boasted that
he had created opportunities for free tertiary education and
jobs for young people. He said he had been unfairly vilified.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar of the UNC has
already begun a campaign that she said would focus on reducing
crime and promoting equality and good governance. She said her
administration would not waste public funds on buildings and
summits that do not benefit the population.

“Gone will be the days of this high-handed arrogant style
of government,” the former attorney general told supporters at
a rally earlier this week.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission that oversees
elections said 1.04 million people in the country of 1.3
million were eligible to vote. That was up from 990,467 during
the 2007 election, when Manning easily won re-election.

Stock Market Today
(Editing by Jane Sutton and Eric Beech)

Trinidad and Tobago sets early election May 24