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PNM leader Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar will lead their parties’ candidates today as they file papers for the August 10 general election with the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

Here comes the tassa, motorcades and nomination papers today—but political parties must limit their Nomination Day assemblies to 25 due to the COVID-19 regulations.

Candidates for the August 10 general election will today file nomination documents with the Election and Boundaries Commission’s returning officers in T&T’s 41 constituencies to register for the election.

According to regulations, all candidates must pay a $5,000 deposit. They must win one-eighth of the votes cast in their constituency in order to retrieve their deposit.

Up to yesterday, about 13 parties and over 133 candidates had emerged as well as independent candidates. The EBC will issue a final figure tonight after all figures are collated.

The EBC’s Communication Division yesterday said the nomination exercise will run from 9 am to noon and 1 pm to 3 pm—and asked candidates to be mindful of the times.

People’s National Movement leader Dr Keith Rowley will file his papers at the Pt Cumana Regional Centre for his Diego Martin West seat at 9.30 am. United National Congress leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar will file hers at 11 am at the Siparia sub-office in Penal for her Siparia seat.

However, the traditional Nomination Day “big bram” atmosphere may be toned down a bit due to the COVID regulations. The National Security Ministry yesterday also reminded the public, including parties, of the restrictions, including limiting outdoor gatherings to 25.

The ministry said it’s been observed that people—including parties and candidates—have been congregating in groups over 25, adding it was an unsafe practice in breach of COVID regulations. The ministry noted there are sanctions for such breaches.

However, the regulations won’t curtail UNC candidates’ plan for colourful parades to the returning officers’ locations.

UNC PRO Anita Haynes yesterday said most of the UNC’s 39 candidates will be going to their respective locations with a group of 25 accompanied by tassa drummers.

PNM PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing said each of the party’s 41 candidates will be accompanied by some officials but within COVID regulations. Some PNM candidates will also be moving to and from their returning officers’ locations via motorcades. She said people will be in vehicles.

COVID regulations have also curtailed parties’ efforts for big launches, large mass meetings and similar events.

But post-filing tonight, the ruling PNM will present a virtual launch of its full candidate lineup via pre-recorded presentations on television and social media.

The PNM, which has urged supporters to follow proceedings from home, is also holding a “Watch Parties” even which will involve limited numbers in several constituencies, where groups will “big up” their candidates alongside the virtual national launch.

UNC’s Haynes said the Opposition will do its candidate launch tomorrow at 7.30 pm, also via virtual social media/television transmission.