Chairman Beres George and “most” of the members of the opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Constituency Council in Marriaqua has resigned after the candidate selection process there.
George confirmed his resignation to iWitness News on Wednesday, even as he said he remains a strong supporter of the party and Bernard Wyllie’s candidacy.
Last month, the NDP’s central executive, acting in accordance with the party’s constitution, rejected the council’s proposed candidate, Kirk Da Silva, who received 15 of the 29 votes available during a run-off in the district.
The central executive granted party president Godwin Friday’s wish for the ratification of Bernard Wyllie, who was voted out of office in 1998, after two five-year terms, as the party’s standard bearer in the upcoming general elections.
George was reticent in his interview with iWitness News, saying:
“To be honest, I’m not going to answer the thing but what I’m going to tell you [is] that I’m a bit unhappy about certain things with the central committee when they had their last meeting when they selected [the candidate].
“… Bernard Wyllie is a good man. He has been in the constituency; he was a parliamentary representative for two consecutive terms — 1989 to 1998, and so on,
“But I tell you, I really don’t want to take this thing to the media… It’s not about anything. I’m a die-hard supporter of the New Democratic Party.
“Bernard Wyllie has been selected finally as the candidate by the Central Committee and I’m here to support him right through. There are couple things I did not like and I just decided to resign from the constituency council.”
Asked if it was true that the entire council had resigned, George to iWitness News,
“I think most, yes.”
He further stated:
“I resigned from the constituency division but I am a supporter in the New Democratic Party and I will still do it from a personal level; not from the executive or as chairman.
“But I’m there to support Mr. Bernard Wyllie. There are a couple things I really didn’t like in terms of the candidate selection the night and so on and the way things went about.
“It’s like there was disregard for the constituency council. It is not about who been selected eventually, right? I think there are people within the constituency division, the constituency council, they have different opinions, but for me personally, no.
“But it’s like there was a big disregard for the constituency council, the way they did it and so on. I really don’t want to take this thing anywhere, right now.”
George reiterated that he did not want to say much to the media about the development.
“A lot of people have different opinions, they figure it’s about Kirk Da Silva and so on, but no, personally me, not like that. Maybe within the constituency council there might be others thinking that way. But I personally, as then-chairman, no.”
Friday, who is also Opposition Leader, has said that he asked that Da Silva’s candidacy not be ratified having received the feedback of constituents after three days of gauging their feedback after Da Silva won the first round.
Da Silva, an accountant, joined the NDP after failing to become a candidate for the ruling Unity Labour Party in the 2015 election.
George’s resignation and that of his fellow councillors came about a week after NDP chairman, Daniel Cummings, praised Friday’s “stalwart leadership” in the handling of the candidacy matter.
Wyllie became the candidate after Da Silva, and the two other contenders — Phillip Jackson, who was making his first bid to become a candidate, and Curtis Bowman, who ran on the party’s ticket in 2010 and 2015, losing on both occasions — withdrew their bid.
“I am pleased to see that in the process, all or three candidates withdrew their nomination, allowing the Central Executive the opportunity to endorse you as the candidate for Marriaqua. I’ve also seen the involvement of the candidates who withdrew their candidacy, giving you support and working along with you,” Cummings said.
Cummings, speaking on radio last month, said he wanted Vincentians to “recognize what is one of the strong outcomes of this exercise, and that is the leadership characteristics, the quality of leadership by Dr. Godwin Friday.
“His was not an easy decision to make but he set out for several days, over several hours each day, going through the length and breadth of that constituency and listening to the people, taking careful notes,” said Cummings who will seek a third five-year term as MP for West Kingstown.
He said Friday did not leave it up to anybody to go and interact with constituents in Marriaqua after the reported public protest of Da Silva’s candidacy.
“… through the rain, through the sun, in some of the worst roads, he went out there and he heard for himself together with members of this team; he heard clearly the unanimous voice of the people who their choice is and on that basis, he had to take that decision,” Cummings said of his party leader.
“But in doing so, he went back to the constitution and made sure that the process was flawless. And he gave the guidance as a leader ought to do and the result, spoke for itself. To me, that was one of the strongest points coming out of this exercise. The stalwart leadership exhibited by Dr. Friday in what clearly was a difficult situation and the overwhelming support given by the central executive,” the NDP chairman said.