Anesia Baptiste has come out in staunch opposition to the proposed constitution. (Photo: Oris Robinson)

TAIPEI, Taiwan:- The campaign for Wednesday’s constitution referendum might have seen the launch of the political career of the woman who hopes to become the first female prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Anesia Baptiste, 29, told I Witness-News this week that while it was not her intention, it seemed that the constitutional debate has launched her career in partisan politics.

“I would indeed like the opportunity to serve my people at the highest level because I believe I have the talent and the gifts and ability to do so. And I believe that I have the sincere love for the people of this country that would allow me to do so,” she said.

Baptiste said that she has long expressed a desire to be the country’s first female prime minister and citizens are edging her in that direction.

“… I have really been getting a lot of feedback that suggest that people want this for me and I have been getting it from all levels,” she said.

Baptiste was featured speaker at the youth conference of opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and was invited by the party to speak at campaign events for a “no” vote on the tomorrow’s referendum.

She said that she appeared in her capacity as Associate Director of Thusian Institute for Religious Liberty (TIRL).

Encouragement has come “from high levels within the NDP as well as from persons on the ground just simply saying, ‘I see you as my first female prime minister’.

“One lady told me last week, ‘You are my Rosa Parks.’ Because a lot of people are struck because of the boldness and courage I have shown in standing up, especially as a senior public servant, in bold and open critique of what the government is doing,” said the Communications Manager in the Ministry of Tourism.

Baptiste said that her supporters feel that her actions have “led to encouragement of fearlessness and courage in a lot of peoples’ heart in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

She holds a Double Master Degree in Hotel and Tourism Management from the Vatel Institute in Nimes, France, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the West Indies, majoring in French with a minor in linguistics. She is also a second year law student with the University of London’s external LLB programme.

Baptiste hosts a 30-minute weekly television programme “The Rights of the People”, and writes a column — “Persistent Scrutiny” — in The News newspaper in SVG.

Asked what would distinguish her from other politicians, Baptiste said that her guiding philosophy “is that all men are created by God with equal and inalienable rights and freedoms and that politicians’ role is that of the protectorate”.

Baptiste and NDP founder, former PM James Mitchell, at a “Vote No” event. (Photo: Oris Robinson)

“Governments do not give rights and freedoms and are only instituted to protect them. A sacred regard must be held by governments’ for human rights in order to ensure due protection of those rights.”

Baptiste said that with this knowledge she “will serve to eradicate discrimination, victimization and such evils, as all would be treated equally and fairly as they (we) are all human beings.

“With this knowledge I will treat all fairly regardless of political affiliation, colour of skin, surname, village of origin and family associations. For me, I will only see a member of God’s created humanity.”

However, some have commented that Baptiste’s “hard-lined” religious views could hurt her political aspirations.

She responded:

“My religious stance is one that teaches me that each human being has the right to religious liberty as a God-endowed, inalienable right. This means freedom for all to follow the religion of choice and the non-interference of government legislation in religious matters. My involvement in political office will not see infringement of this and other rights but rather promotion of tolerance and respect for human rights and freedoms of all.”

Baptiste said that the Bible gives examples “of religious men standing in political office and helping to bring prosperity to the nations they served”.

She spoke of Joseph as governor of Egypt and Daniel as prime minister of Babylon.

“Neither accounts show a force of these men’s religion on the nations. However these men were seen by leaders of different religious persuasions, to be fit for political office because of their wisdom, integrity and intelligence.”

While she said that she was not ready to declare her political association, Baptiste made it clear that the Unity Labour Party (ULP), headed by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, did not appeal to her.

Baptiste believes she cannot flourish in a party headed by PM Gonsalves. (Photo: Oris Robinson)

“Put it this way … if I have to be prime minister one day, I have to be a member of a party. And as it is now, it would not be the ULP,” she said.

She said she could not support the ideas of the ULP, “especially those of Dr. Gonsalves, as I find them to resemble communist/socialist principles.”

She said that she currently supports the NDP on the constitution Bill 2009 adding, “[T]he position each party took on this document is instructive to their future in politics and the future of this country under their respective administrations”.

“I am for a Republican philosophy of government, which emphasizes respect for rights of all, majority and minorities. Thus far, the NDP is the movement I see towards this system, not the ULP.”

Baptiste said she could not thrive “under the ULP because there is a tendency among them to toe Dr. Gonsalves’ line and have no objective, opposing views without fear of his displeasure and or wrath”.

“My freedoms must be maintained and enjoyed in the party with which I align myself,” she said.