The warring factions in Grenada’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) are battling again in public.
This time the issue at stake is the holding of an event on Sunday to mark the fourth anniversary of the party’s victory at the polls on July 8, 2008 to take power from the New National Party (NNP) of former Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that a rebel faction of the party that is loyal to General Secretary, Peter David is planning an all-day event at the La Tante Beach while Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and his followers have decided to hold a massive public meeting at Gouyave, St. John’s.
The group of dissidents who are in control of the party’s executive voted on Thursday to proceed with the La Tante meeting in the name of Congress.
However, sources told this newspaper that the Prime Minister announced during the meeting that his event will be organised in the name of the government and not NDC, which is currently under the control of the David faction.
A party insider disclosed that during the Executive meeting, sacked Foreign Trade and Environment Minister, Joseph Gilbert accused Prime Minister Thomas of trying to mash up the NDC by not bowing to the decisions of the majority of members.
He spoke of the Prime Minister not being opposed to the event organised by the David-controlled Executive but insisted that he had no plans to cancel the public meeting that is aimed at giving a boost to new Tourism Minister, Dr. George Vincent, the prospective candidate for the constituency in the upcoming general elections.
PM Thomas is also said to be using Sunday’s meeting to determine whether NDC supporters will follow him in numbers or give their support to the David group.
Following is the full text of a release issued Sunday by the David-led faction on the plans by the Prime Minister to hold a public meeting in St. John’s:
THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS is pleased to announce a special event in celebration of the fourth anniversary of the Party’s July 8th, 2008 general election victory.
The event, which will take place at La Tante Beach next Sunday, July 8th, will involve activities such as a cooking competition among residents of various constituencies; cultural performances by several local artistes; children’s activities including a bouncing castle; DJ music; a solid bar; and sports and games such as cricket, small-goal football, dominoes and draughts.
This grand celebration begins at 10 a.m.
In recent days, a lot has been made in the media about what appears to be a clash of events for that day, with the Minister of National Mobilization and Information confirming in news reports of a meeting in the name of the Prime Minister.
The news of this meeting was brought to the attention of the NDC, long after the Party began planning for the St David’s event.
On every occasion that we met as a Party, members sought to get clarification on the meeting that reportedly was being organized in the name of the Prime Minister.
In the final NDC executive meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2012, members spent over an hour trying to convince the Prime Minister that we should have one activity, and that it should involve the Party. Prime Minister Tillman Thomas refused to concede, saying that the Government will go ahead and have its rally.
We believe that it would have been more appropriate for the Party to have the event, because July 8, 2008 was a significant triumph for the National Democratic Congress.
Additionally, given the difficult last 12 months, it was strongly felt that we should use the event to begin to rebuild a united sense of purpose going forward.
It would also be an opportunity to pay tribute to all the activists who contributed immensely to the victory four years ago- something we have not done enough of in the preceding years.
The issue of funding for the Prime Minister’s event has also been at the center of the discussions.
Since the Party does not have the resources to fund two events, and since the Prime Minister said his event would not be funded by the state, we cautioned him that people will once again raise concerns about that aspect.
Given the chatter of the recent weeks, we also felt it was unwise to stage another event as was proposed, because of the impression it may give.
The National Democratic Congress is of the view that nothing real or imagined should be done to remotely bring the office of the Prime Minister into any disrepute.
We also felt strongly that the considered Prime Minister’s Rally is potentially a divisive development, also in light of the recent past.
For healing to take root in the nation, it has to begin with the Party.
The Party is committed to having the event at La Tante next Sunday, since it is the near unanimous decision of the executive, the overwhelming will of the majority of chairpersons of all constituencies, and the request of our many field workers.
Having long been sanctioned by all major bodies of the Party-and given the historic and significant nature of the date – we have to move forward to preserve the integrity and solidity of the Party.
We are still hoping that the Prime Minister and our Political Leader will reconsider his unilateral stance at having a competing event on the day; and that he will listen instead to the advice of his own Party and not that of non-party advisers.
We look forward to him as Political Leader joining his cabinet colleagues, his party leadership, the rank and file members of the Party and the general Grenadian community in a non-divisive event of joy and celebration at La Tante Beach on July 8th.
It is an opportunity to reconnect with our team and our people.