T&T: Rowley Sworn In As PM, Kamla Files Petition LK Hewlett People’s National Movement’s leader, Dr. Keith Rowley was on Wednesday (Sept 9) sworn in as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago while outgoing PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar was filing a petition to have Monday ‘s election declared null and void. On (Sept 7) the PNM party defeated Persad-Bissessar’s ruling People’s Partnership coalition 23 seats to 18. Persad-Bissessar, the country’s first female PM, was elected to office in May 2010 , with a coalition of 29 seats in the 41 seat parliament. Upon winning, Dr. Rowley thanked the members and supporters of the PNM organization for their hard work which saw the party elected to government, referring to the polling as “one of the most grueling elections in the history of our country”. Dr. Rowley said his party had been confident that the country would have been placed in good hands, having a population that was “properly informed” on national issues. “We have prepared ourselves well and we expect that we will take the responsibility of managing the affairs of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago…” The new government will now proceed with what it outlined in the PNM manifesto, Dr. Rowley said, adding that the majority of the PNM’s elected candidates will be new to the parliament. “I want to give the country the assurance, that all of us, new and old, young and not so young, we will be guided by the fundamental principles of the People’s National Movement and the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said at a post election victory rally. Dr. Rowley said throughout the campaign his party had made it clear ‘this is not the time of milk and honey”, and there are difficult times ahead. “There is rough water ahead. It is my view… that our country is not a basket case. We have a fair amount of resources, we have a resilient people…We will succeed not basically on who is in office or who won the election, but more importantly, how we behave as a people in treating the challenges ahead.” In her concession speech Persad-Bissessar expressed obvious disappointment with the outcome of the polls but said the democratic process and the wishes of the people of Trinidad and Tobago had to be respected. Persad-Bissessar, a former Attorney General inT&T, has however filed an election petition to have the election nullified. She issued a statement Wednesday saying the People’s Partnership was challenging the election outcome due to the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s decision to extend the polling cut-off time from 6pm to 7pm. ” A decision has been taken to challenge the results of the General Election based on legal advice the People’s Partnership has received. The challenge is based on the sudden decision of the EBC to extend the time for voting from 6pm to 7pm throughout the country without any official notification to the People’s Partnership and its constituent parties. “… Information and data received by the party strongly suggested that the People’s Partnership was comfortably ahead in the polls at 6pm. The march to victory adversely affected by the sudden unilateral decision by the EBC to extend hours of the poll from 6pm to 7pm,” she said. The former PM alleges that the decision by the EBC to give an extra hour “undermines the legal framework which governed the conduct of the general election and was tantamount of the shifting of the political goal post at the end of the game. This might have very well affected the integrity of the process and the results in critical constituencies”. The election petition was not the only hitch in Dr. Rowley’s first day in office as his Attorney General, Faris Al-Rawi, and Minister of National Security, retired Major General Edmund Dillon, had to retake their oaths. The Office of the President was said to have breached protocol and possibly the constitution, by swearing in the officials before the Prime Minister. Up until press time neither Dr. Rowley nor his PNM had made public statements regarding the PP’s petition.