Trinidad Elects Its First Female Prime Minister

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Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister-elect Kamla Persad-Bissessar

The twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, known for warm beaches and its wild annual Carnival celebration, could now be known for breaking glass ceilings because of its election of its first female prime minister.

Voters elected United National Congress candidate Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 58, to the position after Patrick Manning of the People’s National Movement conceded defeat. in Manning called this round of elections a month ago in response to a “no-confidence” motion against him for what has been seen as flagrant government spending. The PNM has had a stronghold on Trinidadian politics for nearly 50 years, and kept Manning in power for 13 of them.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s UNC galvanized a multi-ethnic coalition of parties in order to seize a majority 29 of 41 parliamentary seats, giving them control of the oil and natural gas-rich nation’s government. The country’s resources have made it an economic leader in the Caribbean region and its ties to the United States are not expected to change. Coalition leaders have said they will pursue more strategic ties with Brazil once the new administration is in place.

Still the prime minister-elect will have to contend with the problems Manning is leaving behind. Last year, the nation became the murder capital of the Caribbean, with homicides up 38%. She will also have to quickly address corruption issues in government projects that have dogged her predecessor for years.