By Linda Hutchinson-Jafar
PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) - The opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) party led by 65-year old geologist, Keith Rowley, won Monday’s general elections in Trinidad and Tobago, according to preliminary returns.
Initial tabulations from the Elections and Boundaries Commission, the official body which monitors elections, showed the PNM capturing 23 constituencies for control of the 41-seat parliament in the oil-rich twin-island Caribbean nation.
The incumbent ruling United National Congress, led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, won 18 seats.
Speaking to the media late on Monday night, Rowley claimed victory for his party. “Trinidad and Tobago from tomorrow would have a new government,” he said. Kamla later conceded defeat in a speech to her supporters.
Rowley, a veteran politician, is expected to be sworn into office on Tuesday after the election commission's announcement of official results.
He faces some tough budget decisions over spending on social programs due to lower oil prices.
Ex-FIFA Vice-President, Jack Warner, political leader of the fringe Independent Liberal Party, now wanted in the United States on a dozen corruption charges, failed to win a parliamentary seat representing the central region's Chaguanas East constituency.
Just over one million people are eligible to cast votes for candidates contesting the seats – 39 in Trinidad and 2 in Tobago.
(Editing by David Adams and W Simon)