Just over one week after last Monday’s general election, Political Leader of the United National Congress, Kamla Persad-Bissessar has conceded defeat, congratulating the People’s National Movement on their 22-19 victory at the polls.
“After some days of reflection and monitoring of the progress of the election recount process, I am satisfied that the people have spoken and that Dr. Rowley and his party shall form the new Government of Trinidad and Tobago. I congratulate them and wish them the best,” Persad-Bissessar wrote in a statement released on Tuesday.
It comes one day after the final ballots were recounted in the St. Joseph constituency, with all five recounts requested by the UNC leaving the election result unchanged.
Admitting that she was “disappointed” by the outcome of the polls, for which she accepted “full responsibility”, she again vocalized her concern that the process was mired in controversy.
“I share the grave concerns expressed by many about the election irregularities and the need to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process,” she said, adding “We remain deeply concerned, especially since the release of correspondence relating to Trinidad and Tobago’s request for independent election observers raise more questions than answers.”
The UNC political leader also accepted sought to disarm speculation that she would resign from the party’s leadership, saying while she contemplated such action, she has decided to continue service until the party’s internal elections are due.
“I have given the last 25 years of my life in dedicated service to my country,” she recounted, continuing, “Some observers have been raising questions about my political future and, some are keen to see me exit the political landscape. This is understandable as I have myself queried whether I should resign. This is not an easy job. Having consulted with my colleagues, it is clear that running away is not an option at this point in time.”
Moving forward, she said the ruling PNM government should prepare for a fresh approach to Opposition politics, pledging to “lead one of the strongest opposition forces in our political history with safety, accountability, transparency and equality as our priorities.”