PORT OF SPAIN –– Prime Minister-elect Dr Keith Rowley has pledged to engage in a campaign to make citizens more patriotic.
This was one of the major pledges by Rowley during his victory speech to thousands of party supporters at Balisier House, Port of Spain, close to midnight last night.
He said the election victory marked the culmination of a very gruelling campaign, adding at times it was not easy but he always held the belief that the People’s National Movement would emerge victorious.
Rowley said while he was leader of the PNM he was now assuming the responsibility of serving not only PNM members but all of T&T. Unconfirmed results gave the PNM 23 seats to the PP’s 18.
He said he expected to be sworn in soon and the Cabinet should be appointed soon afterwards. Rowley had said previously that his Cabinet would contain no more than 17 members.
Preparation of the country’s 2016 national budget would be one of the early items to be addressed as the financial year ended on September 30, he told supporters.
Rowley has already named Arima MP and former TTUTA president Anthony Garcia as his Education Minister.
Among the many in the audience was world record holder of the highest Test score, Brian Lara, causing speculation that he might be considered for the Sport and Youth Affairs portfolio in Rowley’s 17-member Cabinet.
Rowley was quick to remind the nation of the serious challenges it would confront in the months and years ahead.
“There are difficult times ahead. There is rough water ahead but if we navigate them successfully, there is calm water ahead,” he said to the cheering crowd.
“Rowley! Rowley! Rowley,” they chanted as he was introduced earlier as the new Prime Minister of the country.
“We will succeed not basically on who is in office or who won the election, but more importantly, how we behave as a people in treating with the challenges ahead,” he said.
He said the Opposition People’s Partnership had a special role to play in the advancement of the nation, as it was part of the governmental process. He said while the UNC had tasted defeat at the polls “and while we form the Government you of the UNC will form the Opposition, but we all expect you to act as a part of the Government because your responsibility is awesome.
“If we accept that we are all in this together, T&T, all of us will come out of our difficulties together,” he added.
Rowley said success was also dependent on people “at the individual level taking responsibility for ourselves and saying that we are our brother’s keeper”. He said if that was done “nobody in this country will be hungry”.
There was then celebration well into the morning as many more supporters were seen approaching the venue close to 1 am. There was a very heavy, armed police presence.