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We will win!


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We will win!

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by Sanka Pricein TrinidadBY NOON, the major protagonists in the Trinidad general election had voted, and both Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar were confident of victory.Manning was the more emphatic, stating that his ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) would capture “more than 21” seats.“We’re going to win. In fact, we are likely  to win quite handsomely,” he said moments after he and his wife Hazel voted at the Belmont Secondary School about a stone’s throw from the Queen’s Park Savannah. Dame Billie Miller, the deputy leader of the CARICOM Observer mission, was already  in that station, having arrived at 9:35 a.m.For her part, Persad-Bissessar would not be drawn into predicting how many seats her People’s Partnership (PP) coalition could win. Asked directly by the DAILY NATION about this, she would only say: “A win is a win.  It doesn’t matter how many seats.”She and her husband Dr Gregory Bissessar had just cast their votes at the San Francique Hindu School in Penal, a southern district about 30 miles from Port-Of-Spain.Manning, who is leading the PNM for the fourth time into a general election, said he was confident of victory because the party had been able to mobilise the youth in a way that they had not been able to do before.  “We have conducted an excellent election campaign,” he stressed, and said the high voter turnout seen across the country favoured his 55-year-old party.    He dismissed suggestions of his unpopularity, saying this was not the reception received on the campaign trail.“Let’s see what the people say today,”  he mused.    Asked by the DAILY NATION if he thought he would be able to buck  the trend for change that had swept out governments in the region in the last few years, Manning said what happened  in other regional countries did not necessarily affect Trinidad and Tobago.“Our circumstances are very different.  I don’t buy this argument about change running through the Caribbean. What you have seen in this election is a whole change in approach by the PNM – you see  a significant change in our candidates.  The change that people have been calling for has taken place in the PNM itself,” he said.Quizzed on what he would do if he lost this poll, Manning said: “So be it. When you go into a contest you can either be a winner or loser.  If you lose it is the democratic process,  but that is unlikely . . . . I am not a pessimist,  I am an eternal optimist.”With that he left the school in his sleek black Royal Saloon Toyota, PM1, accompanied by a security detail of six vehicles en route  to his constituency office in San Fernando.Persad-Bissessar, who arrived at her polling station at 11:35 a.m. in a five-vehicle convoy accompanied by six bodyguards, said she had received several texts, emails and phone calls from voters saying that some presiding officers were not initialling the ballots as they should. This meant such ballots were spoiled and this would make a “tremendous difference” in the marginal constituencies, which could determine the outcome of the election.“I hope that not too many of those have been cast and therefore [would] be lost. It would be a very tragic thing . . . ,” she said.Questioned on the strength of the coalition and how they would work together if she won, Persad-Bissassar said: “The coalition is strong, the partnership is strong. We have common interests for the common benefit, the common good of our citizens and that is the glue that will hold the coalition together.“Our focus, our vision, our mission  remains one. We have a common vision  and that is good governance and that  will hold us together.”

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