First woman prime minister vows unity in Trinidad and Tobago | world | Hindustan Times
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First woman prime minister vows unity in Trinidad and Tobago

world Updated: May 25, 2010 13:45 IST

Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Indian origin has been elected the first woman prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago after her five-party coalition swept to victory in snap elections in the former British colony.

A subdued Prime Minister Patrick Manning conceded defeat some five hours after the close of polls late last night, as TV counts showed almost the whole map of the larger island of Trinidad turn the coalition color of yellow, as well as both seats in Tobago.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission was today due to give official results of the 41 seats in the energy-rich nation off the coast of Venezuela.

Indian music and traditional Caribbean beats rang out at a victory party for Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the nation famed for its carnival.

Persad-Bissessar's campaign tapped into voters' worries about rising gang violence and corruption scandals here.

The 58-year-old also promised to increase pensions and create a multi-million-dollar fund for sick children in a campaign focused on change.

"I'm deeply humbled by the trust you have given to me," Persad-Bissessar said in a victory speech in which she emphasized unity for the nation's diverse races.

Politics here have long been divided along lines of Indian or African descent, the two majority ethnic groups.

Manning's People's National Movement (PNM) draws most of its support from Afro Trinidadians while the United National Congress (UNC) of Persad-Bissessar largely relies on Indo-Trinidadian backing.

The new coalition includes the multi-racial Congress of the People, and the smaller National Joint Action Committee, the Tobago Organization of the People and the Movement for Social Justice.