In a dramatic twist of events, Trinidad's first prime minister of Indian descent and
the black-dominated opposition locked in a tie on Tuesday sparking a constitutional crisis and setting the stage for a lengthy political battle.
With nearly all votes from Monday’s elections counted, preliminary results indicated that Prime Minister Basdeo Panday's ruling United National Congress and the People's
National Movement of former prime minister Patrick Manning had each won 18 seats in the 36-seat Parliament.
Official results, including those of one disputed district, were expected later on Tuesday but it was unclear whether the tie would be broken.
“My understanding of the constitution is when there is a tie, the president must call on the incumbent prime minister to form a government,” Panday told more than 1,000 supporters on Tuesday night at his party's election headquarters at Couva, south of the capital, Port-of-Spain.
Both parties scrambled to find attorneys to make sense of the results. In this oil-rich twin island nation, the constitution states the president may appoint a prime minister
who he think would command a majority but it does not specify what to do in the case of a tie.
Manning, cautious of declaring a victory, said it was up to President Arthur Robinson to choose the next prime minister. Robinson, a longtime rival of Panday, could not
immediately be reached for comment.
A prime minister has to be appointed. That person is the leader of the party that is most likely to command a majority, Manning told supporters at his party headquarters