By Ian Francis
As the various bits and pieces continue to filter out on the outcomes and deliverables of Grenada’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) convention, which attracted over three hundred delegates on September 30, 2012, the event can best be described as focussed, electrocuting leftists and remnants of the Coard /Austin brutal Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) of October 1983. A very sad, coward and violent past that led to the execution of many leftists and political misfits who have found solace in the arms of the NDC.
Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at email@example.com
Many of those whose untimely assassination took place on October 19 are not far away from being remembered. Grenadians are once again reminded to share a moment of silence with the friends and relatives of the murdered souls. Remember, many of the assassins are still in the midst us so it is important to be on guard.
The outcomes and deliverables from the convention resulted in the political humiliation and extinction of many casualties who were former members of the NDC. As the casualty list is reviewed, known casualties are listed as former chairperson Kendrick Fullerton, now facing criminal fraud charges for allegedly fleecing resources from the Ministry of Sports where he once worked as a senior adviser to the junta. Pastor Stanley Simon; trade union nuisance Chester Humphrey; constituency activist Shaky Sylvester; and former general secretary and minister of tourism Peter David.
Other known casualties have been identified as Karl Hood, Glenys Roberts, Joe Gilbert, Arley Gill and Michael Church, all of whom served as former cabinet ministers in the junta’s administration. These political casualties, who have now lost their power base, have been severely wounded within their own party by being permanently expelled. The sad reality for all these casualties is that they face a very bleak political future in the nation.
As recent conversations reveal, the opposition New National Party (NNP) is extremely reluctant in welcoming them, as they could be realised as political liabilities; the Grenadian voting constituency is not demonstrating any appetite or encouragement to independent candidates and there are no current existing indicators to welcome a new political movement for the next general elections that could be called at any moment.
As many regional and local observers have cited, the Thomas junta is faced with three critical areas of governance. These are:
The NDC Internal Disorder and Rampage
The extinction and humiliation of Thomas’s alleged challengers should not be seen as an immediate victory that will solve the above party problems. While there is no doubt that the new national executive might be inclined to work more closely with Thomas, there are still many challenges ahead.
Certainly, the casualties are quite likely to be unhappy with their expulsion and will no doubt be engaged in devising fight back methods and strategies. Assuming that they are engage in such efforts and, if successful, there is no doubt that a great deal of effort will be invested toward “payback time” for those who orchestrated their expulsion.
Given the likelihood of the above scenario, Thomas’s junta and his party’s new executive committee are likely to be faced with many new challenges that will no doubt continue to be a barrier toward effective electoral planning.
Readers might wish to conclude that although the convention took place and decisions were made to extricate certain members, these occurrences are unlikely to strengthen the NDC’s forward advance over the next eight months. Time is very short to call an election and mount a winnable campaign. No party that seeks to achieve a renewed voters’ mandate should be embroiled or faced with party internal dissent. In my humble view, the changes and new faces that emerged at the convention have their work cut out. The future journey will be long and difficult.
Election Planning, Candidate Selection and Presentation
The outcomes at the convention clearly indicate that there will be some NDC candidates to face the electorate when the election is held. Based on available information, it would appear that NDC has already selected caretakers for South and South East St George. St Andrews North and St Johns. Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora are now waiting to see who the candidates will be in St Patrick West and the Town of St George.
Another interesting constituency is that of St Patrick East now held by Prime Minister Thomas, which he barely won at the last elections. If current rumours are true and Thomas becomes less defiant, there is a strong chance that Thomas might surrender the constituency as chances for his re-election might not be achieved. If this is the case, the NDC will have to find a candidate to replace Thomas.
The current count estimates that NDC will be fielding about eight new candidates to contest the next elections. Many of these potential new candidates are not battle-tested and, with intense growing anger against the ruling junta, it is only reasonably fair to assume that the NDC’s exercise could very well end in futility.
With only nine months left to complete a five-year term mandate and with the obscene determination “no one go push out before five years”, it is not difficult to obtain a view or analytical observation how the Thomas junta is governing. It is a modus operandi that surrounds him and his inner circle with total disrespect for the Grenadian voters. As it is constantly being asked in many quarters, do you think that Thomas recognizes it is over and is hanging on to the end? No reasonable answers or reasoning have yet been formulated.
Bringing the Crisis to Climax
There is no doubt in the mind of Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora that a resolution to the current political crisis in urgent and necessary. Unfortunately, Thomas and what is left of his inner circle are experiencing great denial thoughts by not admitting there is an existing political crisis in the nation.
The collapse of the economy and the inability of the junta to address the collapse are quite evident from near and far. Grenadians have accepted the fact that the economy has collapsed and, hopefully, with the return of a responsible administration in the near future, revival will start and the pains and strains will gradually disappear.
The second and evident growing concern on the minds of Grenadians is the obvious abuse and tactics that the NDC has applied against parliamentary democracy. While Grenadians recognize that the prime minister has the constitutional right to ask the governor general to prorogue Parliament, they are asking why prorogation at this time?
This question is yet to be answered by Thomas and the governor general. So while voters are not challenging his constitutional rights, they are indeed challenging Thomas’s immorality, disrespect and undemocratic action against them. With Parliament prorogued, there are no items on the parliament agenda; parliament continues on its extended vacation with laid off elected and appointed members and a mute head of state.
The third and final agony faced by Grenadians is the coercive, cowardice and selfish tactics of the NDC junta. Since the resignation of former minister Roberts, Thomas and his inner circle became aware that the NDC parliamentary majority was lost. However, by silencing parliament through prorogation, this was likely to be a moot question, as parliament is on extended recess and there is no existing mechanism where he is forced to demonstrate whether he has a parliamentary majority. This is the agony and affront facing the nation of Grenada.
In conclusion, for Thomas and his inner circle to rule without a parliamentary majority is not fair; specific legislation that would have been introduced and passed to assist diverse constituents is dead. As the NDC junta buckles its unconstitutional grip on the Grenadian people, it is time that “Teacher Carlyle” says something to the junta leader. Call it a day.