ST. VINCENT: – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has especially encouraged supporters of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) to a rally this Sunday, Nov. 14, fuelling speculations that he might announce the election date then.
General elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are due by March 2011 but some political observers believe that Vincentian will go to the poll before the end of the year, possibly the first week of December.
Gonsalves, speaking at a ULP rally in the Central Leeward town of Layou on Sunday, Nov. 7, told supporters to “make an extra effort” to attend the rally in Calliaqua, a town on the south eastern coast
“Next week Sunday, we are going to be in Calliaqua. … I want us to turn out in extremely large numbers, bigger than ever, to give Clayton Burgin the support,” Gonsalves said.
Minister of Works Clayton Burgin is vying for a third consecutive term as the parliamentary representative for East St. George.
“You have to make sure – you came out here in your several thousands. I want you to triple this crowd you have here out at Calliaqua on Sunday. Let us now go into that area. We have done a lot of work in North Windward, North Central, [South Windward], Marriaqua; we [are] doing Leeward here. We are now going to move into that vertex between East St. George and Wast St. George and I want you to come out in your massive numbers,” Gonsalves said.
“Please make an extra effort on Sunday. During the course of this week, you will hear about other things we are doing in relation to operation recovery and reconstruction but I have the opportunity here tonight to urge you for that Sunday meeting,” he added.
“We are going to have a significant event on Sunday,” said Edwin Snagg, who chaired the rally, even as he encouraged party supporters to bring along their relatives and friends.
“Operation recovery and reconstruction” is the rubric under which the Gonsalves government is hoping to rebuild the country after the ravages of Hurricane Tomas at the end of October.
Both the ULP and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) suspended their election rallies last week after the passage of the storm.
The ULP, which is hoping for a third consecutive term in office, returned to the campaign trial on Sunday, amidst suggestions that it should suspend the electioneering for two months.
“There is nothing which says we can’t rebuild our country in unity while we are still engaged in the democratic exercise of campaigning for an election, which would either come later this year or up to the end of March next year,” Gonsalves said.
He said the reconstruction of the country would take more than five month, the constitutional life of the current government.
He said which party is best placed to engage in “operation recovery and reconstruction” will be a major issue of the campaign. .
“You see what we are doing so far and you can make your judgements,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves told party supporters that he wanted a “very serious conversation with you … about the current condition [of] our country, what we are doing, what we will be doing in the next few days and weeks and months”.
He said the storm came while the country was still reeling from the effect of the global financial meltdown.
He said that on the busy highway to progress, the country “does not need a learner, but capable, tried and tested hands at the helm”.
“You do not want to see a vehicle carrying you with an ‘L’ in front of it. It doesn’t matter how much a person has had experience as a civil servant, being a prime minister is an entirely different matter,” he said.
“… [W]hen the matter calls for a serious insightful decision; there is nobody other than the prime minister who is the ultimate person in making that decision. So, in these challenging times, you need most capable hands,” Gonsalves further said.
He mentioned the result of the midterm election in the United States where Republicans made strong gains against Barack Obama and the Democrats in the face of rising employment in states such as California and Nevada.
Gonsalves said that Vincentians “have held our own, we are surviving and we are thriving”.
“It is easy for people who don’t have responsibilities to talk. Talk is easy,” he added, saying that every month, he has found the EC$20 million (US$7.4 million) to pay state employees and pensioners.
“And not one single month have I ever missed to pay anybody their salary over the last two years,” he said, adding that this has not been the case in some Caribbean nations.
He further said that school and hospitals have also received their requisite supplies.
“I make these points to tell you that the last two years, given the meltdown which had taken place in the world economy, it has not been an easy thing being prime minister…” he said.