A surprise in 2016?

There is definitely talk within some quarters within the ruling New National Party (NNP) about a snap election in 2016 to catch the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) sleeping.

The NNP has often demonstrated a thirst for power and is expected to do everything possible to maintain their political stranglehold on Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

It makes political sense for Dr. Mitchell to think of an early poll so as not to give his opponents to much time to prepare for elections, coupled with the fact that there is no certainty that the Structural Adjustment Programme will turn around the economy in short order.

An early poll is a clear indication that the NNP leadership is bent on getting another five years in office without giving is opponentstoo much time to go and organise to pose a serious threat.

Dr. Mitchell will have to lead NNP into any early general elections and the outcome will most likely not give a clear indication as to a possible successor in the near future.

However, at some point in time, the NNP will have to seriously address the question of a suitable replacement for their ageing leader or run the risk of seeing their party go the way of the once formidable Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of the late dominant leader, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.

Despite all the talk by the Prime Minister about preparing persons within the party for leadership roles this is very much questionable.

Dr. Mitchell is fast closing in on 70 years and his deputy Elvin Nimrod is older than him while the other top leader, Works Minister Gregory Bowen might not be seen as ideal successor given widespread reports throughout the country about the status of his health.

A few years ago Roland Bhola, the Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North-East was seen as a possible successor to PM Mitchell but this is hardly being mentioned anymore in some of the influential quarters within the party.

There are unconfirmed reports that Bhola, the Minister of Agriculture, is in a similar position to Bowen and might be experiencing some health challenges of late.

Of the elected MP’s, the only other one who might be considered as an odds-on-shot for the top NNP position is Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen who has been holding onto her St. Mark constituency since 1999 – and defended successfully in 2003, 2008 and again in 2013.

Outside of the MP’s, two other persons who are said to be eyeing the Political Leader’s job in the NNP are Agriculture Economist, Dr. Patrick Antoine and attorney-at-law, Dwight Horsford, who holds the important position of Solicitor-General.

A rank outsider and dark horse in the race is former Congress General Secretary, Peter David who joined the NNP ranks as part of the so-called “Project Grenada” bandwagon with the likes of trade unionist, Chester Humphrey and sacked NDC Minister of Public Utilities, Joseph Gilbert.

David can become a formidable opponent for the likes of Dr. Antoine and Horsford in any move by persons within the NNP to replace Dr. Mitchell if the power of the dollar comes into play.

Unlike the two of them, he currently holds the post of Assistant General-Secretary of the party, which places him in a very influential position.

Like PM Mitchell, David believes in having around him a group of loyalists and blind followers who are often put into influential positions to serve his needs.

One of his loyalists is said to be show biz promoter, Nimrod Ollivierre, who was allegedly recently put in charge of the NNP Chapter in the New York area in the United States.

If not checked, David will move to get a number of his trusted lieutenants into key positions within the NNP for good use at the right time.

The only person among the young brigade who might be able to challenge David financially in a race for the NNP top leadership position is Dr. Antoine who is known to be well connected within financial circles in Trinidad and elsewhere in the region.

The outcome of the next national election will definitely give some insight into the potential candidates whose name might come to the forefront of the list that might be put under consideration to take over from Dr. Mitchell.

Both Dr. Antoine and Horsford will not be standing as candidates.

However, David who has already announced that he will be contesting the elections is still battling to get a seat on which to run as a candidate.

There is speculation that he will be vying for St. George North-east as a replacement for Tobias Clement. If he gets the nod, David will be contesting on turf that is not familiar to him and will be in for a fight from Congress Leader, Nazim Burke, a former close political ally.

A defeat for David at the polls in the next election will definitely ruin his chances of going forward as a major player in the political landscape.

Snap election or not – the next national poll in Grenada will settle a number of things politically in the Spice Isle.

THE NEW TODAY is also of the view that an early poll will not resolve the economic and financial quagmire that this country has found itself after years of mismanagement of the nation’s financial purse.

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