By Kenton X. Chance
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Election officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) said they will on Monday release the names of the 44 candidaters who will vie for the 15 parliamentary seats in the December 13 general elections.
The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) have both nominated candidates to contest all 15 seats, while the Green Party has nominated 14 candidates.
The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has reported that the leaders of all three political parties were among the candidates who completed the formal nomination process on Nomination Day.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of the ULP handed in his nomination papers at the Georgetown Police Station in North Central Windward (NCW) about 9:30 am on Friday.
NDP public relations office Vynnette Frederick confirmed on Friday that Kenroy Johnson, former principal of the Georgetown Secondary School, who was assigned to the SVG Community College, will represent the party in NCW.
Johnson is the third candidate identified by the NDP. Cameron Balcombe, who represented the NDP in the constituency in the 2005 elections, opted out in September amidst protest by party supporters in the constituency.
Nurse Margaret London, who was selected to replace Balcombe, also bowed out this month amidst rumours that she was ineligible to contest the polls because she has a criminal record.
Electoral and constitutional law in SVG prohibits persons serving a term of imprisonment or a sentence substituted for a term of imprisonment of one year or more from being a Representative or Senator.
NDP president and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, the incumbent in East Kingstown, handed in his document around 10:45 am at the CW Prescod Primary School.
The NBC has also reported that Luke Browne of the ULP and Sabrina Ells, the Green Party’s candidate, handed in nomination papers, making it a three-way race in East Kingstown.
There will also be a three-way competition in Central Kingstown, which will have a new representative, the incumbent Conrad Sayers of the ULP having opted out of politics.
O’Neal of the Green Party is contesting the seat, according to NBC. The NDP has identified St Clair Leacock as its candidate, while Elvis Charles will represent the ULP.
Political observers have dismissed Ivan O’Neal and his Green Party as non-starters, although O’Neal said recently that his party is poised to win the elections and should be taken seriously.
Vincentians are undoubtedly waiting to see who the Green Party candidates are, since O’Neal has also said that their names will be released only after their formal nomination.
Six registered voters in the respective constituencies must sign the requisite documents and the candidate deposit EC$500 (US$185) before an individual is officially a candidate in the general elections.
The official nomination of candidates took placed hours after three NDP candidates say they were denied official leave to contest the polls and were therefore forced to resign.
Elvis Daniel, the NDP’s candidate for North Windward, who has been a teacher for 31 years, said he and fellow NDP candidates and teachers Addison Bash Thomas and Kenroy Johnson were denied election leave.
“Two of my colleagues who are here on the platform, Kenroy Johnson and Addison “Bash” Thomas also; they applied for election leave but our leave was denied and we were forced to resign, forced to give up our benefits,” Daniel said at an NDP rally on Thursday.
“The three of us who are standing here before you, we have given nearly 100 years in the teaching profession and that’s how we are treated. We have risen to administrative position, all of us have either achieved principal or deputy principal positions but yet we are treated this way. We are saying enough, no more!” Daniel said.
The ULP will officially launch its candidates at Victoria Park on Sunday.