September 30 is the date set for the long-delayed annual convention of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who is facing an internal battle for control of the party from his former Tourism Minister, Peter David.
A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY that the date was set at last Thursday night’s National Executive meeting held at the party’s head office on Lucas Street, St. George’s.
He said that pro-Thomas supporters on the executive were able to outnumber those who normally vote in favour of David and got the majority vote for a date to be finally set for the much-anticipated annual convention.
This session which is the highest decision making body in the party has been put on hold in the face of a major battle between Thomas and David for control of Congress.
The source said that during the meeting it became apparent that the David faction was on the retreat due to the large number of persons that attended the recent public meetings organized by PM Thomas in Grenville Car Park, Gouyave and Tivoli in St. Andrew North-east.
David was only able to attract a handful of persons for a July 8 event organized in the name of the Executive held at the La Tante beach to mark the 4th anniversary of the party winning the last general elections.
The Prime Minister held a government rally on the same day and attracted a crowd estimated to be in the region of 4, 500 at Gouyave.
The source spoke of little or no resistance coming from the so-called Group of Rebels to a move by supporters of the Prime Minister to push for a date for the convention in which a number of senior positions will be up for grabs.
He said the only person who tried to disturb the smooth flow of the meeting was Ralph Lord, the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the party who is known to be an activist for the pro-David camp.
Speculation is rife that the biggest casualty at the convention could be David himself as General Secretary of the party and that of Pastor Stanford Simon, the acting Chairman of Congress.
According to the source, the National Executive also took a decision to rescind an earlier decision taken by the David-controlled body to declare as null and void the recent election of the Women’s Arm of the party.
During the election, Jennifer Simon-Rapier, a strong supporter of the Prime Minister was elected to the post of President to replace Carmen Maria Roberts-Pascall who is considered in party circles to be pro-David.
The pro-David faction had sought to cancel the outcome of the election on the grounds that the Executive had taken a decision to put a halt to all elections within the party in the face of the worsening Thomas/David conflict within Congress.
The Prime Minister and his followers took a different view, arguing that the Executive decision was taken in respect of election of persons to be considered as candidates for the forthcoming general elections.
The pro-Thomas faction cautioned the National Executive against taking a decision in which they could vote on issues and seeking to deny persons at the constituency level to participate in the democratic process and to take decisions that affect their own well-being.
The source pointed out that during last Thursday night’s meeting, the pro-David faction within the party accused Deputy Political Leader, Nazim Burke (Minister of Finance) and Senator Glen Noel (Minister of State for Information) as the two persons who should be blamed for the recent problems in the party.
He said the attack on Burke and Noel were led by Yvonne James, an Assistant General Secretary of the party who is aligned to David.
James reportedly told the Prime Minister that in time to come, he would realise that these are the two persons who are really undermining him within Congress.
The Prime Minister was quoted as saying that the people will deal with all those who are engaged in destabilisation within the party.
This newspaper was told that during the meeting, a challenge was made to the presence of Siddiqui Sylvester at the gathering on the grounds that he had lost his position as Chairman of the St. George North-West Constituency Branch.
Sylvester, another of the pro-David supporters retorted that he is a senior member of the party and that in itself automatically qualifies him to sit on the Executive of the party.
General elections are constitutionally due in 2013.