After much anticipation, the NDP released its manifesto Thursday night. (Photo: Oris Robinson)

ST. VINCENT: – The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) launched its election manifesto at a concert dubbed “Defending Democracy” Thursday night, three days before Vincentians go to the polls on Monday, Dec. 13.

“This is the manifesto of the New Democratic Party. This is what it looks like,” party leader Arnhim Eustace said, adding that voters could collect copies in their constituencies on Friday.

The NDP has been heavily criticised by the ruling Unity Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves , political observers, and Vincentian in general for the late release of the document.

The release comes three weeks after the party displayed the manifesto on Nov. 25, when it celebrated the first anniversary of its Constitution Referendum victory.

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It is widely believed that the party had to reprint the manifesto after Kenroy Johnson was chosen to replace Margaret London as its candidate to come up against Gonsalves in North Central Windward two days before Nomination Day, Nov. 26.

“There was some delay in getting it but tonight we have it and tomorrow it will go to all the constituencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you can get your copies in your constituency,” Eustace said of the manifesto.

“This includes all of our proposals, all of our policies and programmes, whether it be health, whether it be agriculture, whether it be tourism, whether it be crime, whatever. Our proposals are here, and, in addition to that, we have the ten projects that I spoke about. But the ten projects are not all. We have programmes and policies, which we think will bring benefit to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Eustace, a former Prime Minister was referring to his announcement last week Saturday that his party has negotiated with foreign investors 10 projects that will employ at least 20,000 persons and pump millions of dollars into the local economy over the next two years if the NDP is elected on Monday.

 

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“Today, tonight, and for the next few days, we in this country will be working towards a decision, a decision that will change the lives [of] the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a decision that will bring a new dawn for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines because on the 13th of December 2010, the New Democratic Party will win the next general elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We have had enough of Ralph Gonsalves and we want no more. Tonight, as I look at this vast crowd here, I feel a sense of responsibility and I am sure that feeling is held by all those persons on this platform.

“We are coming to you to seek to manage the affairs of this country and we know that if we do so properly, our country can be better off,” said Eustace, and economist.

He said poor Vincentians were getting poorer and citizens were slipping out of the middle class while   “the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and a just a few people are getting richer.

“But that has to change and the New Democratic Party promises you that we will make that change. We have looked at the situation in this country for the last nine years. It has not been easy for us but we never flattered.

“We tried to move on and on and on, and tonight we are on the threshold of forming the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And when we accomplish that, I promise you that the people of this nation will all be better off because we know what we are going to do, we know what plans we have for the people of this country and we have a determination to succeed,” Eustace said.

Pundits say the NDP is a formidable contender in preventing the ULP from securing an historic third consecutive term for a Labour Party administration.

The NDP lost the 2001 and 2005 election 12 seats to 3 to the ULP after 17 years in office.

Jamaican reggae artiste Tarrus Riley headlined the “Defending Democracy” concert, at which Bridgette Blutcher, along with and other Vincentian artistes also performed.