KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — The opposition senator who six years ago said she wanted to become the country’s first female prime minister plans to run in the next general elections, constitutionally due by 2015.
Anesia Baptiste, 31, who emerged as the face of the “Vote No” camp during the 2009 constitutional referendum, said that she wants to contest the West St. George seat for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
“I pledge to be a true democrat. I pledge to support and help to protect the rights and freedoms of all of the people of West St. George regardless of which side you may be on,” Baptiste said to the people she hopes to represent.
“… [A]t the end of the day, we are Vincentians and I believe that my purpose as a representative is to protect all of your rights and freedoms,” she added.
“I will work with you. I will see that committees are put in place to see to the various needs of [the entire] constituency so that it does not end up that when having to take care of a ministry I neglect the things that have to be done in the constituency,” Baptise said on Friday.
“I will make sure that the relevant structures are put in place with hard, genuine worker who would work to see that your needs are addressed. And I believe that together we can do it, in the spirit of true democracy,” she further said.
She, however, noted that the NDP has a candidate selection process that was yet to take place.
“But the Opposition Leader [Arnhim Eustace] is quoted as saying that the former person who ran for that seat will not be running again,” Baptiste explained.
Fellow NDP senator Vynnette Frederick lost to the ruling Unity Labour Party’s Cecil McKie — now Minister of Health — in the general elections last December.
“I thought last year, after the general elections, about ways in which I can help my party have a better chance in the next general elections, to win, to take government. And I do believe that the West St. George seat is not any hard and fast belonging to the Unity Labour Party,” she said of the district that the ULP has won since 2001.
“I believe I have the conviction and all the necessary traits that will help me to commend myself to the people to give the New Democratic Party the fighting chance to win one more seat in addition to what we already have,” she said.
The NDP has emerged from crushing 12-3 defeats in 2001 –– when it was voted out of office after 17 years — and 2005 to win seven of the 15 seats last year.
Baptiste said that her decision to enter the race is a “strategic” one “with respect to wanting to see how I can make my contribution, help the party to go forward, push forward.”
She said that she intends to continue to be a hard working person and wants to serve the people “in the highest capacity possible.
“And whenever it is time for that to happen, not only will it happen but I believe the people are the ones who will be saying that they want it,” she said, acknowledging the need “to work hard”.
“I am a young person, I am a young politician, I hear you out there. I hear you are tired of the same old thing and, by example, I intend to show that better, and change for the better, can happen,” Baptiste said.
“It will take some time but we cannot get weary of well doing, we cannot get weary of standing up for principle, we cannot get weary of standing up for the right even when it seems unpopular. We just have to push through and believe that the right will prevail,” she further said.
Baptiste, a national scholar resigned as Communication Manager at the Ministry of Tourism after she was suspended and slapped with 16 disciplinary charges for statements she made during the constitution referendum campaign.
She holds a double master’s 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 also hosts a 30-minute weekly television programme “The Rights of the People”, and writes a column — “Persistent Scrutiny” — in The News newspaper in SVG. She has published an 80-page book titled “Socialist Revolution-From Grenada to St. Vincent”.