The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, faces a serious test Monday as voters in that country elect a new parliament.

Recent polls have shown a strong challenge from opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who could become the island nation's first female prime minister.  She leads the United National Congress and has campaigned on promises of improving health care and ethnic equality.

Mr. Manning, of the People's National Movement, has been a popular leader credited with overseeing economic growth, particularly in Trinidad's lucrative energy sector.  He called in March for this election, amid growing allegations of government corruption and criticism of high crime rates in the twin-island Caribbean nation.

Elections had not been scheduled to take place for another two years.

Some information for this report was provided by AP Reuters.