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Sunday, 7 April, 2002, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Trinidad to suspend parliament
Crowds of people were trying to enter the building to observe Parliament proceedings over elections
Parliament has been unable to meet since December
Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick Manning has requested parliament be suspended after five months of deadlock over tied elections.

Patrick Manning
Manning: Island's interest "best served by prorogation of parliament"
The twin-island nation's two main political parties failed for a second day on Saturday to elect a speaker of the house, a move that has kept parliament from meeting since December.

Local reports say Mr Manning spoke of the possibility of fresh elections by September or October if a budget had not been passed by then.

His government cannot now pass any legislation requiring parliamentary approval, but parliament could be reconvened if an agreement was struck within the six-month period before elections must be held.

Mr Manning said he would make another attempt to elect a speaker, but gave no details of when that might happen, reports Reuters news agency.

Rivalry

The political deadlock reflects bitter rivalry between the two main political parties, in a country where voters' loyalties are largely determined by ethnic origin.

Basdeo Panday
Panday says Manning should not have been appointed

Until last December, the governing party was Basdeo Panday's United National Congress (UNC), which draws most of its support from people of Indian descent.

After the election, it ended up with 18 seats in parliament - as did the People's National Movement (PNM), which is supported mainly by Afro-Trinidadians.

President Arthur Robinson resolved the crisis by appointing Mr Manning as the new prime minister, but Mr Panday has since refused to co-operate on electing a new speaker of the house, saying President Robinson was wrong to appoint Mr Manning.

Mr Panday told reporters on Saturday that if Mr Manning could not demonstrate he had a majority support in parliament, he should call fresh elections.

See also:

10 Dec 01 | Americas
High turnout in Trinidad poll
09 Dec 01 | Americas
Trinidad's voters reassess loyalties
24 Jan 01 | Americas
Trinidad PM warns of 'coup plot'
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Trinidad and Tobago
31 Jul 01 | Americas
Timeline: Trinidad and Tobago
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