Trinidad's ruling party seen holding onto power

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PORT OF SPAIN, Nov 6 (Reuters) Trinidad and Tobago's ruling party looked set to hold onto power after handily winning an election for a new government in the energy-rich Caribbean country.

With 52 per cent of the vote counted in the election yesterday, preliminary results from the national Election and Boundaries Commission gave Prime Minister Patrick Manning's People's National Movement 25 seats for control of the newly expanded 41-seat parliament.

Politics in the twin-island nation has traditionally been divided along racial lines with the PNM drawing most of its support from voters of African descent.

The party was founded 51 years ago and has been in control of the government for all but 11 years of that time.

The main opposition party, the United National Congress, which results showed winning 16 seats in parliament, has its base of support among Trinidadians of East Indian descent.

An upstart third party, the Congress of the People, led by former central bank governor Winston Dookeran and which presented itself as multiracial, was competing in a general election for the first time.

Located just off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is the top exporter of liquefied natural gas to the United States.

Its natural gas and energy resources have made it the envy of the Caribbean with economic growth last year of 12 per cent.

REUTERS ARB BD0920

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