By: Tony Best
“I haven’t thought of it.”
That was the reaction of Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, when he was asked about the exact date of the next general election at home. He gave that response in Canada as Barbadians in Canada, the U.S, Barbados, London and elsewhere speculate about the timing of the vote. Stuart is also sticking to a legal view that constitutionally he has a 90-day window after the current five year term expires in January to ask Barbadian voters to go to the polls. Conceivably, that could put the election to the outer limit of mid-April, a view he expressed in New York earlier this year.
And while the Prime Minister says he knows how the next election campaign would be conducted, he is remaining silent on the date when the election bill ring will ring and on the economic and social issues which may dominate the campaign.
At the same time, Stuart told the Carib News that when the report of the Alexandra School Commission of inquiry reached his desk, he would consider its recommendation and take the necessary action.
Reached in Toronto where he addressed more than 200 guests at a Democratic Labor Party dinner on Saturday night, the Prime Minister declined to be drawn out on the election timetable, contending the constitution gives him up to 90 days after the fifth anniversary of the 2008 election to dissolve parliament and ask Barbadians to select a government. In other words, the outer limit of an election in Barbados would be mid-April, a view he has expressed at home and in New York
“Constitutionally, it seemed to me that the outer limit for the holding of an election would be mid-April, if one interprets the constitution in a particular way,” was the way he put it in an interview from his hotel room in Canada’s largest and best known city. “That’s all I have ever said. Outer limits don’t really mean anything in terms of when you decide to have an election. There’s a five year anniversary (of the last election) and then there’s a 90 period beyond that.”
What then would be the key issues on which the election would be fought?
“When the next election comes, I will deal with all those things,” he replied. “I am not discussing any of that now. I have been in this for a little while. I have been involved in electoral planning and so on since about the mid-1970s in the Democratic Labor Party. I know exactly how we are going to deal with this. That will become evident in the fullness of time.”
Stuart was equally tight-lipped on what action can be expected after the Commission that looked into the controversy at the Alexandra school hands in its report.
“I will receive it, see what it says, what it recommends and then take whatever action I deem necessary in the light of the recommendations,” he said.