ST. VINCENT:- A political activist in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) says the opposition New Democratic Party should “definitely” be encouraged by the outcome of the Trinidad and Tobago elections, nine months before Vincentians are due to go to the polls.
“I would not want to be a ULP [Unity Labour Party] election strategist right now because the prospects do not look good following the [Trinidad and Tobago] elections,” General Secretary of the People’s Movement for Change (PMC), Jomo Thomas told I Witness-News this week.
“The prospects were foreboding even before. They just look a little bleaker now and this is just from the perception prospective,” said Thomas, who is also a newspaper columnist and radio talk show host.
“When you include [the] state of the economy, crime, unemployment, allegations of high handedness and corruption, the political calculus does not invite confidence. But I have been wrong before,” Thomas said in an email interview.
He noted that since 2006, electorates in St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, and Jamaica voted out of office administrations that were allies of Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Kamla Persad Bissessar on Wednesday became the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago after Patrick Manning gambled and lost in elections called two and half years early.
Thomas said “there is nothing to say that Kamla Persad [Bissessar] will renege on the support for our airport”.(Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
He was speaking about the international airport in St. Vincent, which the Gonsalves’ government is constructing with the support of a “coalition of the willing” that includes Trinidad and Tobago and other allies.
The project is the largest undertaken in the history of the nation and is likely to be a central plank of the ULP’s bid for another term in office.
“It is true that our PM was close to Mr Manning, but government to government relations may survive and thrive. Don’t forget that two of the coalition partners in the government are left of centre. The NJAC [National Joint Action Committee] forces and the group lead by the trade unionist, [Errol McLeod],” Thomas said.
He further said he did not anticipate any change in relationships between Port-of-Spain and Kingstown and Port-of-Spain and the sub regional grouping, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
“I see no real change. Governments come and go all the time. Leaders will adjust to their counterparts. Any change will be on the margins: in style rather than substance,” Thomas said.
Gonsalves on Tuesday congratulated the People’s Partnership on its “remarkable victory”, saying it was coming to office at a challenging time for the Caribbean region. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
He mentioned the unrest in Jamaica, the illness of Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson and the voiding by a High Court judge in Antigua and Barbuda, election results of three government parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
Gonsalves said the coalition, even before its victory, had reassured him of its commitment to regional integration.
“That is the issue which concerns me most,” he said, listing among the “specific matters” on which he “would need clarification very early”, Trinidad and Tobago’s “further assistance in relation to the airport”.