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Trinidad and Tobago's Indian-origin PM survives no-trust vote

world Updated: Mar 05, 2012 16:45 IST

For the first time in its 50-year history, the Trinidad and Tobago parliament sat for a marathon 27 and a half hours non-stop in which a vote of no confidence was moved against Indian-origin Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, but the motion was defeated.

The session began Friday, March 2 at 1.30 pm and closed at 5 pm on Saturday. All 41 members -- 29 from the government and 11 from the opposition-- spoke in the house. One opposition member, Patrick Manning, is ill and is in Washington for treatment.

When the vote was taken, the full government bench voted against the motion.

Opposition Leader Keith Rowley had moved the motion on Persad-Bissessar and her 22-month old government -- comprising five coalition partners -- for not properly managing the economic, political and social issues in the country.

Persad-Bissessar said the objective of the motion was to get her fired and bring down the government, but the opposition failed.

She said that for 12 years, Manning, Rowley's former leader, had even described him as a "raging bull" and "completey out of control".

The prime minister, who visited India in January, quoted extensively from Central Bank reports that showed the economy was improving from the decline the government had met it with, when it took office in May 2010.

Finance Minister Winston Dookeran spoke of the numerous initiatives he has undertaken to bring the economy on a strong footing despite the critical financial situation all over the globe, especially in Europe. He said several international financial monitoring agencies have given Trinidad and Tobago positive ratings despite meeting a weak and depleted economy in May 2010.

Dookeran is an international economist and author of several publications and who has lectured several times at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

There was loud support for Persad-Bissessar when she met thousands of placard-bearing supporters.

Persad-Bissessar is the first woman to lead this country since its independence in 1962. Her forefathers were among 148,000 people who came here between 1845 and 1917 from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to work on sugar, cocoa and coconut plantations.