ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, July 9, CMC – Prime Minister Tillman Thomas says he will lead a new slate of candidates into the next general election as the infighting within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) continues unabated.
Prime Minister Thomas, addressing a government sponsored rally to celebrate his administration’s fourth anniversary in office on Sunday, said “we will face the next elections as a renewed, re-energized and united team under one leader.”
The rally in the west coast fishing town of Gouyave was taking place at the same time as the NDC was staging a rally in the central parish of St. David.
Thomas had publicly disagreed with the NDC over the staging the two rallies, telling supporters “we need to ensure that the candidates we present to you for the upcoming elections are acceptable to you”.
Earlier this year, he had informed the NDC that it accepts the list of candidates he plans to nominate. But that was rejected by the executive saying the new move was breaking with tradition.
“We need people that you can trust to manage the affairs of your government. People who will not engage in wrong-doing,” Thomas told his rally, adding “people who understand that the vote you give to them is for them to go into office to serve all the people, not themselves”.
Prime Minister Thomas’ statement on Sunday contradicts a denial from his office to media reports earlier this year that he was promoting a new slate.
“The vote you give to them is not theirs to do as they please,” he said, in apparent reference to the departure from his Cabinet of at least six members in the last four years.
“Some have walked out on you the people. Others have mis-behaved and have had to be disciplined,” Thomas said at the rally that was also attended by Finance Minister and NDC deputy Leader Nazim Burke.
But the majority of the 11 government legislators attended the party’s rally including Agriculture Minister Dennis Let and Environment Minister Glynnis Roberts.
“Brothers and sisters keep hope and don’t let them distract you. Every man has to put his shoulder to the wheel,” said former tourism minister Peter David, the NDC’s general secretary, who resigned from the Thomas administration last month.
“Go back to the trenches and work hard for the party,” he said, telling party supporters he had largely kept silent since his resignation hoping not bring the party into disrepute.
“I was hoping that if I keep quiet and leave the government, they would have (left) me alone. But they not leaving me alone. Comrades, just rest assured that I have no intention of bringing down this government; or fighting my own party and government, but I will fight for the people anytime.
“Let us move forward un unity. Let’s not fight with anybody. I have no problem with the political leader. He (just) has a problem with the party,” David added.
But Prime Minister Thomas called on his supporters to lobby the NDC executive to announce a date for the party’s convention that was originally scheduled for July 8.
“They intend to withhold the national convention which was set for July 8. But they cannot continue to frustrate the holding of the convention indefinitely.
“You have to call your representative, your constituency chairman, the party chairman, the general secretary and others and demand that our convention be held,” Thomas said.
Meanwhile, on the east coast town of Grenville, the opposition New National Party (NNP) also held its convention and rally where former prime minister Dr Keith Mitchell said that amidst the feuding in the ruling party, the NNP is ready to take over the mantle of government with a new attitude.