The Elections and Boundaries Commission says it cannot accede to a request from the government to consider name changes for three electoral seats for the 2020 General Election because the 2019 report on the Review of Constituency Boundaries is now before the Parliament.
During a meeting between EBC officials and a government team led by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Wednesday, the government asked the EBC to consider renaming the Siparia seat now held by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to Penal/Siparia, the D’Abadie/O’Meara to Malabar/O’Meara, and Mayaro to Rio Claro/Mayaro.
Speaking to Guardian Media following the meeting Imbert explained that the request was made “because the current names do not reflect the geography of the area.”
“We’ve presented them with our analysis and asked them to consider a name change and they’ll come back to us on that,” Imbert said.
Guardian Media reached out to Persad-Bissessar for her thoughts on the possibility of the Siparia seat being renamed, she admitted to having concerns about the request.
“The first question would be on what evidence, what basis? We don’t know. And secondly, whether the EBC in law can entertain such a request being made by the ruling party,” she said.
Responding to questions from Guardian Media, the EBC said the government team was informed that the requested changes could not be made.
It noted that it recently recommended changes of boundaries in seven Local Government corporation areas, the creation of additional new electoral districts in two areas and name changes in three others.
It is for this reason; the EBC said they told Imbert such a notion could not be entertained at this time.
In an emailed response to Guardian Media, the Commission said it “reminded Mr Imbert that the 2019 Report of the Elections and Boundaries Commission on the Review of the Constituency Boundaries pursuant to Section 72 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, dated March 14, 2019, was submitted, as constitutionally mandated, to the Prime Minister and Speaker of the House of Representatives on March 19, 2019.
Therefore, no such consideration for re-naming of constituencies can be entertained at this time as these Reports are now a matter for Parliamentary debate.”
Following this, the EBC said, they were asked to review the request with an aim to provide a view to assisting the Parliament in its debate of this issue.
The EBC confirmed that in addition to meeting with the ruling PNM, they have also met with the opposition UNC and the Progressive Democratic Patriots.
Reporter: Rishard Khan