KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – After five years in opposition, the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) was yesterday re-elected to office in a general election that left former ministers under the outgoing United Workers Party (UWP) licking wounds.
Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) reported last night that preliminary results show the SLP, led by Dr Kenny Anthony bagged a majority of the 17 seats, winning at least 10.
And while outgoing prime minister Stephenson King, who had predicted a 14-3 victory for the UWP and a second consecutive term in power, retained his seat, several high-ranking members of his cabinet were among the casualties.
Sports and Social Development Minister Leonard “Spider” Montoute, National Security Minister Guy Mayers, Health Minister Dr Keith Mondesir, Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet and Foreign Minister Rufus Bousquet, all tasted defeat in the election, the ninth since the Eastern Caribbean nation attained its political independence from Britain in 1979, according to CMC.
For the first time in more than 30 years, the name Compton was not successful in the Micoud North constituency, where former University of the West Indies lecturer Dr. Gale T.C. Rigobert defeated Jeannine Compton, the daughter of late prime minister and UWP founder Sir John Compton.
As an independent candidate, the female politician contested the seat, which Sir John had held for more than three decades. Compton came out of retirement in 2006 to lead the UWP to victory and died in office the following year.
“Thank you everyone, and of course all my supporters,” Emma Hippolyte, the SLP’s candidate in Gros Islet wrote on her Facebook page around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party will do its very best. We require that the entire country come together to realise peace and progress. May we remain a blessed nation under God? Congratulations on exercising your right to select your Parliament and your Government,” her message continued.
Scores of St. Lucians left Facebook messages for the prime minister elect.
“Hello my Prime Minister. You made Christmas come early for us this year. I have full confidence in you guys. I do not expect to see a total change right away because there is a lot of work to be done. St Lucia was a mess. Congrats and better days are here!” one post read.
“Welcome back as the captain of this sinking ship, Dr Kenny D. Anthony. I have faith that you will keep us afloat and help us rise once more. Thank God!” another message said.
But one person, posting ahead of the vote, wrote: “Dr Kenny Anthony had his first taste of being in opposition and for this I am glad. Because I am sure it give him a chance to do some very, very, very deep soul searching,” a reference to the five year that another spent in opposition since losing in 2006.
“Today Dr Anthony is ready to return this country to good governance and strong economic growth. Let us face it St. Lucia, under the SLP, has achieved immense economic growth and infrastructural development and if I had to measure Dr Anthony’s failure against his success, then for me, he not only pass but he did so with flying colours …” he post continued.
“Dr. Anthony, please remember tomorrow red or yellow everyone is St. Lucian. May God bless and guide you as you take on this very challenging role in this unstable global economic situation. We ALL stand ready to help,” another poster said after the victory, while yet another wrote, “Remember though that it’s not everyone who wins his seat that should be included in cabinet. The representation of the people comes first and the cabinet should be men and women who are experts in the key areas. God speed!”
The vote in St. Lucia came one day after Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, a close associate of Anthony’s, boasted that his government was one of three in the Western world to survive elections since the global economic crisis began.
The others, he said, were the Dominica Labour Party and the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.