Backgrounder: Main candidates in Trinidad and Tobago general election

17:15, May 24, 2010      

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Trinidad and Tobago will hold its general election on Monday, and the two major contenders, current Prime Minister Patrick Manning and the opposition candidate Kamla Persad-Bissessar are expected to have a tight race.

Born in San Fernando in 1946, Manning got a Degree with Special Honors in Geology at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica.

Manning began his political career in 1971 as a candidate of the People's National Movement (PNM), and from 1981 he served as minister of trade and industry, minister of information and minister of energy and natural resources.

In 2001, he was appointed prime minister by President Arthur N. R. Robinson.

In December 2004, Manning was awarded "Star of the Caribbean Award" of the Central American Action for his support to the Caribbean countries during the time of distress, and given the Doctor of Laws degree Honoris Causa by the Medgar Evers College of Brooklyn in New York City in September 2007 for his 36-year career in the public service.

Manning married Hazel Manning, the current minister of local government, and has two sons with her, Brian and David.

Manning called the snap election in April after his government was challenged with a non-confidence vote by the opposition on corruption charges midway through its five-year term.

He and his PNM, which has dominated politics for half a century, faces a tough battle against a five-party coalition, led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC).

Manning defended his policies and claimed he had created job opportunities and offered free education to the young people.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 58, was the country's first female attorney general in the former UNC government and also served as acting prime minister. A longtime member of parliament since 1995, she was sworn in as minister of education on Dec. 22, 2000.

This year, she was appointed political leader of the opposition, and this is the second time for her to run in a general election.



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