EBC blanks PNM request to change constituency names

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

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