ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- An increasing number of members of Grenada’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is reported to be less optimistic about the chances of a reconciliation within the party.
Party “elders” and officials of the National Secretariat have been making repeated calls for discussions, especially after the NDC leader’s recent statement on television, declaring that that there is division in the party between “the forces of good and evil.”
However, sources say the efforts at reconciliation are being rebuffed in the pronouncements at what are known as “Solidarity Sunday Meetings.”
The latest meeting, held last Sunday in St Patrick West, where just over a week ago the NDC constituency branch endorsed MP Joseph Gilbert as the party’s candidate for the area in the upcoming general elections.
However, for Sunday’s meeting that was addressed by NDC leader and prime minister of Grenada, Tillman Thomas, deputy political leader Nazim Burke, and former party chairman Glen Noel, neither the constituency branch chairman nor MP Gilbert, was invited to attend.
According to reports, Sunday’s gathering followed the tone of previous meetings at which so-called “leftists” were attacked, and the issue of the selection of NDC candidates for the next general elections was again brought up.
More than once in the past, Thomas has said that he has the “right” to decide who runs for the NDC at the next national poll, which is due by 2013.
His statement, as well as the organizing of the “Solidarity Sunday Meetings,” has raised the eyebrows of many NDC members and supporters, who are concerned about the apparent sidelining of the National Executive and even party branches in the constituencies.
Under the party’s constitution, candidates are usually chosen by their constituency branches and the nominee’s name is sent for ratification to a committee of the NDC executive that includes the leader and the general secretary.
Thomas has said the aim of the “Solidarity Sunday Meetings” is to reinforce the “values” of the party such as “integrity in public life”, respect for institutions, honesty, accountability and the “good governance agenda.”
“Those who deviate from this, we have to take action against them,” he told a local TV station recently.
However, British-based Grenadian businessman, Winston Strachan, has taken issue with what he describes as the prime minister’s “leftist chants.”
“His leftist chants are pure scaremongering of the electorate by a bitter man who has now become desperate and perhaps dangerous because deep down he has come to realise he is isolated (barring a few cronies) and divorced from his political party. No longer respected, he no longer speaks or acts in their best interest or shows any capability for dealing with the chronic economic situation that the country is in or the desperate plight of our people, especially those without work,” Strachan said in a letter
published by Caribbean News Now.
Strachan, who recently visited Grenada, added that “while the former PM Dr Keith Mitchell was unpopular and always seemed to be at loggerheads with the local press, Tillman Thomas seems to be glorified by them; he is like a king that can do no wrong.”
According to Strachan, “a lot of what they (the press) have been reporting about his Cabinet colleagues and members of his party is quite the reverse – it is Thomas who cannot get along with people; it is Thomas who has split his party and it is he who would rather see his party face political meltdown at the next general election rather than pull the membership together; respect the constitution of the NDC and allow the membership in each constituency to democratically choose the candidate of their choice to stand for parliament.”