Details are now emerging about some of the intrigue that led to the political crisis within the 2008-13 National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
During last Sunday’s edition of NDC Heartbeat Radio Programme which is carried live on WEE FM, the former Prime Minister alluded to problems which existed with a faction of the administration involving former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David.
The controversial David who held the powerful position of General Secretary of the party was expelled as a member of Congress in September 2012.
He has since taken up membership of the ruling New National Party (NNP) of current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell with an eye to running in the upcoming general election for the town of St. George.
David had won the constituency in the 2003 and 2008 elections on the ticket of Congress.
Ex-Prime Minister Thomas admitted on the radio programme that Congress faced some internal problems with David and some other members of the government.
He said when he made a Cabinet reshuffle in 2010, David who was the Chairman of a committee comprising the chairpersons of some constituencies wrote him a letter referring to the reshuffle.
The letter, in part, said, “we, the Chairpersons ask that you give very serious reconsideration to the implementation of the decision which in our view smacks non-accountability, and lacks transparency.”
The former Prime Minister stated that because David and others do not always champion transparency and accountability, they sought to use the phrase to challenge him.
“Peter couldn’t function within a truly democratic environment,” he charged.
David is a former member of the now defunct Marxist-oriented New Jewel Movement (NJM) that seized power in Grenada in 1979 by force of arms against the elected labour party government of late Prime Minister Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
He landed a position in the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) and rose within the NJM-formed government to the post of Deputy Secretary for Information and New Director at the then called Radio Free Grenada.
David was considered to be a member of the pro-Bernard Coard faction of the NJM that was engaged in a leadership battle with Prime Minister Maurice Bishop culminating in the bloody massacre at Fort George on October 19, 1983.
With the downfall of the Grenada Revolution, he left the country to pursue legal studies in North America.
David returned home as a qualified barrister-at-law and re-entered front-line politics to help in the rebuilding of Congress after its crushing 15-0 defeat in the 1999 general elections at the hands of NNP.
Former Prime Minister Thomas also made mention of David’s contribution to Parliament when a no-confidence motion was brought against him by government dissenters.
PM Thomas recalled that David told parliament, “Mr. Speaker I have not disguised I have difficulty with the managing style of the Honourable Prime Minister. Indeed, I have been vilified in my own party for speaking frankly to the issue of my leader’s reluctance to embrace differing ideas and opinions both from within and outside the National Democratic Congress”.
The former Prime Minister also spoke of the moves that were made to introduce casino gambling to Grenada by a rival Cabinet faction.
Thomas accused some ministers of operating outside of government and trying to give a casino licence to foreigners to operate a casino at the Bruce Street Mall with an outfit known as Ocean Quest Gaming Project.
He read from a letter which said in part: “We are very pleased to assist your project for the development of your project in St. George’s, Grenada. The Government of Grenada will ratify this creation of the total development to be known as the Ocean Quest Gaming Project. In the interest of improving our country as a tourist destination, a gaming license will be issued in a practical and now timely manner. We are in the final stage of enactment for the law governing gaming. Your gaming license will be approved in the first quarter of 2012 for this project to proceed.”
Thomas said the issue surrounding casino gambling was never discussed by his Cabinet.
THE NEW TODAY understands that this letter was used by PM Thomas to sack Communication and Works Minister, Joseph Gilbert who was a key David ally.
The former Prime Minister also responded to claims made by David at a March 26 rally to bring an end to the annual convention of the ruling party at Telescope, St. Andrew’s.
The expelled congress member accused his fellow revolutionary colleague, Senator Nazim Burke, the current Political Leader of NDC as the one who was responsible for overthrowing Tillman Thomas as Political Leader of the party.
Both David and Burke became members of Congress in 2000 and were considered as future leaders of the party.
Thomas categorically denied David’s claims that Sen. Burke has destroyed him politically.
The former Prime Minister said he served Congress for 13 years as Political Leader, and no one overthrew him.
Burke who served the Tillman Thomas Government as its Finance Minister took over the leadership of the party in February 2014 when Thomas decided to step down following the humiliating lost to the NNP at the 2013 General Elections.
Thomas spoke favourably of Sen. Burke stating that he sees him as a committed, dedicated and disciplined person and one who was respected locally, regionally and internationally.
“I can’t think of any other leader right now on the political arena who could be really compared with Naz in terms of his patriotism and his commitment to Grenada, and his loyalty to the country,” he said.
The former NDC Political Leader reminded listeners to the programme that Congress is a democratic political party with rules to govern its affairs.