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Caribbean nation votes for first woman PM

Former Attorney General Kamla Persad-Bissessar (pictured) is set to become the first woman prime minister of the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobego, with her coalition picking up 27 of 41 parliamentary seats in Monday's general elections.


REUTERS - Prime Minister Patrick Manning was ousted on Monday in Trinidad and Tobago’s general election, with a coalition of opposition parties winning at least 27 of 41 seats in Parliament, according to preliminary results.

Former Attorney General Kamla Persad-Bissessar is set to become the first woman prime minister in the energy-rich Caribbean nation. She heads the United National Congress (UNC), which put together a coalition to oust Manning’s People’s National Movement (PNM).

Manning conceded defeat after an election that saw him accused of mismanaging funds and spending exorbitantly on public buildings, charges that he denied.

“I take full responsibility,” Manning said. “We have lost and we have conceded.”

Manning called snap elections midway in the five-year term of his administration to thwart an opposition motion of no-confidence in him.

The UNC-led coalition won the right to form the government for the next five years in the twin-island nation.

Manning, 64, has ruled the country for 13 of the past 17 years and his biggest accomplishments as prime minister include poverty reduction and attracting billions of dollars in investment in Trinidad and Tobago’s petrochemical industries.

The country is the biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas to the United States. The change in government was not expected to produce any significant change in energy policy.

Trinidad and Tobago’s population of about 1.3 million is almost evenly divided between descendants of African slaves and those of Indian indentured workers brought over when the territory was a British colony.

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