Monday, February 22, 2010

Former St Lucia PM helps appeal for a new mandate

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC: Former St Lucia prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony on Sunday appealed to Vincentians to maintain the status quo by returning the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) to office and not place the country in incapable hands at the upcoming general election.

Addressing the 16th convention of the ULP, Anthony said the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines should not follow the mistake of St. Lucians and elect a government that has no idea how to deal with the socio-economic crisis facing the country.

He said St Lucian voters had removed his administration in 2006 despite it having improved the economy and infrastructure on the island in favour of the United Workers Party (under an 81 year old leader, who died within weeks of his accession to office) and since then it has become increasingly clear that the people of St. Lucia have paid a price for their decision.

"Today, our economy is floundering hopelessly," said Anthony, who was recently re-elected as leader of the main opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP).

In cautioning ULP supporters to learn from the demise of the SLP, Anthony said the party needs to rebuild a relationship with supporters who have become disappointed or disaffected.

Anthony said that the present international economic crisis is also presenting a challenge to the ruling party as it seeks a fresh mandate from the population.

"The new centre of economic power and wealth is now the Asian sub-continent. Latin America, led economically by Brazil, is quickly asserting its continental ambitions," Anthony said, noting that a new and different type of consumer is likely to emerge from this economic debacle.

"This will not be the consumer that a recovering economy will want," Anthony said, noting that the real question is whether the Caribbean can cope, or be ready for the inevitable paradigm shift that will follow.

"What I'm trying to tell you, is this, it cannot be politics as usual; it cannot be business as usual. This ULP, this St. Lucia Labour Party, the PNP (People's National Party) in Jamaica‚ wherever Labour parties are in office, every single one of them have to be prepared to govern differently from the past.

But Anthony warned that such a situation should not mean that the labour parties have to abandon their fundamental tenets.

"First, you must not be discouraged or daunted," he said listing seven points for the supporters and party to consider.

"We must remember what makes us Labour. What makes us wear this red shirt with pride and dignity," he said.

In his address, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that since the party came to power a decade ago, the country has developed significantly with many more people being employed and moving away from poverty.

"We don't have to shy from our record," he said, adding that "the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines today in every material respect are far better off than they were in 2001 when we came to office"

General elections are constitutionally due here next year, but political commentators believe that Gonsalves will call a general election later this year.

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