Education Minister, Senator Franka Bernadine is tipped to become the new Chairperson of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) when the party holds its annual convention Sunday in Telescope, St. Andrew’s.
A party spokesman told THE NEW TODAY that this is one of the major changes expected at the meeting of party delegates in which Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is seeking to regain full control of the National Executive from former Tourism Minister, Peter David.
He said that the pro-Thomas camp does not expect anyone to mount a serious challenge to Bernadine who is also favoured to be named as the party’s candidate for the Town of St. George in the upcoming general election.
Pastor Stanford Simon has been acting as Chairman of the Congress party following fraud-related charges brought by the police earlier in the year against the holder of the post, Kenrick Fullerton.
Speculation is rife that Simon who is considered to be a part of the David faction will not put up his name for election to the post.
The spokesman said that the current Treasurer of the party, Bernard Isaac is being lined-up to replace David in the key party position of General Secretary.
Deputy Political Leader, Nazim Burke, the country’s Minister of Finance and Energy is expected to retain his position within the party.
According to the spokesman, Prime Minister Thomas and his key advisors are putting the necessary systems in place to deal with a possible disruption of the convention by pro-David supporters.
“We are planning for a worst case scenario. There is talk on the ground that the rebels are mobilising to send people to try and mash up the convention. We are prepared to deal with that. Some of them (the rebel leaders) might just be bold enough to show up at the convention”, he said.
“This is a most important convention on plotting the way forward for us with the general elections just around the corner. We expect to come out of this convention as a united team since these people (rebels) will soon become history. They know what is facing them after Sunday. None of them will be able to go around the country posing as NDC people”, he added.
THE NEW TODAY was told that there is expected to be a heavy police presence around the convention hall at the St. Andrew Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) to deal with any possible disruption by elements supportive of the David faction.
The ex-Minister of Tourism was a prominent figure in the ill-fated 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, which collapsed after Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was executed on October 19, 1983 following a bitter feud for leadership with his hardline deputy, Bernard Coard.
After migrating to North America to study law, David returned to the country and got involved in frontline politics once again with Congress.
He resigned three months ago as a member of the government when a former revolutionary colleague, Senator Glen Noel identified him as among persons who was allegedly part of a conspiracy to unseat Prime Minister Thomas.
The convention was shifted from the River Sallee Government School to SAASS after a site inspection.
This newspaper was told that a Protocol Committee from Congress took the decision to make the change in venue since it was felt SAASS was more convenient to accommodate the large number of delegates and other persons expected to attend the activity.
All of the 15 constituencies including Carriacou and Petite Martinique were advised to submit their list of delegates to Treasurer of the party Bernard Isaac in an effort to give the organisers a clear indication of participation.
It is not clear whether David will make an appearance at the Convention to deliver his report as the outgoing General Secretary of the party.
In delivering an address at a recent Town Hall Meeting to constituents in the Town of St. George, David said that he had informed Prime Minister Thomas that he would not be offering himself for any of the Offices at stake.
There are unconfirmed reports that David might prepare a report and give it to someone to bring to the convention.
NDC insiders have said that David’s decision not to seek re-election on the National Executive is “a smart move” to avoid being humiliated at the Convention since he no longer has any control over the various constituency branches.
Recently, a number of constituency branches that were controlled by David had elections for a new executive and the persons elected are considered to be now loyal to Prime Minister Thomas.
These include St. Andrew’s North West, St. George’s North West, South St. George, St. George South East, and St. David’s.
The convention, which is being held under the theme, “NDC Building A Winning Team To Continue The Mission,” will roll over into a mass meeting that is expected to begin at 5:00 p.m. with a Professor in Political Science from the University of the West Indies expected to deliver a keynote address.