ST. VINCENT: – A well-placed source has told I-Witness News that the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) will soon issue a statement amidst questions that one of its candidates has a criminal record and, is therefore, ineligible to contest the Dec. 13 general elections.
According to Electoral and Constitutional law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) any person serving a term of imprisonment or a sentence substituted for a term of imprisonment of one year or more shall be barred from being a Representative or Senator.
Questions were raised this week about whether two charges reportedly brought against Margaret London in the early 1980s could prevent her from running against Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in North Central Windward (NCW).
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I Witness-News was unable to confirm the nature of the alleged charges and whether there were any convictions.
NDP public relations officer Vynnette Frederick did not comment on the issue Thursday night, Nov. 18.
She, however, told I Witness-News that the party’s website was being updated and London’s photo was never uploaded to it.
Frederick said London’s photo was not uploaded after Cameron Balcombe’s was removed from the website, some time ago.
London replaced Balcombe as the NDP’s candidate in NCW during a primary held on the heels of protests by four NDP supporters from the constituency.
“[Balcombe] was not elected by the people and for the people and that gentleman does not have political substance,” protestor Newton George had told Searchlight newspaper in August.
The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) has been fuelling the speculation, and, in a media release Thursday night, said London “is a bad joke, but for the NDP she is turning out to be … more of [a] nightmare”.
“…evidence is surfacing that she might have a criminal record,” the ULP said.
“Last week, she was listed as a candidate on the NDP website, but now they are dumping her,” the ULP said in its media release.
The party said its “Countdown Team was busy conducting investigations” and were up to Thursday afternoon trying to verify the information with the Criminal Records Office of the police department in Kingstown and the Calliaqua police station.
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“The Margaret London fiasco proves the weakness of Arnhim Eustace and fractured leadership within the NDP,” the ULP said.
It said that it appears as if three weeks before the Nov. 26 official nomination of candidates “the NDP is scrambling to find a second replacement to come up against the ULP powerhouse, Comrade Ralph Gonsalves”.
“What joker will they pick next in this comedy of errors?” the ULP said.
“With the election less than three weeks away, the fact that the NDP cannot even find a candidate who is qualified to run suggests serious questions of the competence of the party.
“What does this major blunder say of a leader and party wanting to replace the ULP? Were proper background checks of the candidates conducted? If not, why not? Are there any more surprises in store for Eustace?” the ULP said.
“If the NDP can’t find 15 qualified candidates, how do they expect to be ready to run an entire country?” the release further said.
“Mark my words: Before the end of this campaign, at least one calamity will befall the NDP — at least one. I say no more about this,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said when he announced the election date on Sunday.
London, a nurse, made her maiden political speech at an NIDP rally in Sion Hill, East Kingstown last Saturday, Nov. 13.