History has been created in the local political arena in Grenada.
For the first time a female has emerged as the Chairman of a major political party in the country.
Education Minister, Senator Franka Bernadine was unanimously elected to serve the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) as its Chairman.
The elevation of Bernadine came during last Sunday’s Convention of the NDC which was held at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School at Telescope, St. Andrew’s.
Sen. Bernadine is also tipped to become the party’s candidate in the Town of St. George following the decision taken at the Convention to expel the sitting MP, Peter David, the former Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation from the 25-year old party.
David was among a record number of ten persons who were expelled following an almost unanimous decision taken by an estimated 425 delegates attending the Convention held September 30 at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) at Telescope.
In her acceptance speech, Sen. Bernadine spoke of being proud to have ascended to the position of Chairman and sees this as a means of helping in whatever way she can, and to keep people focused.
She cited the results of the elections as being a watershed moment for the ruling administration.
She said it has been a time when they, as a family were able to come together as members of the same party who have had and want to have one political view, and one political leader.
Sen. Bernadine implored the members to ensure that “the train” is fully serviced once again, and to be brought back on track.
She believes the outcome of the convention has put an end to much of the uncertainties, “and we have done what we have to do.”
“What we saw here today was true democracy at work, true democracy,” she quipped.
This is clear reference to the expulsion of ten dissident members of the party including five sitting MP’s – Peter David, Michael Church, Joseph Gilbert, Karl Hood, and Glynis Roberts.
Others expelled were trade unionist, Chester Humphrey, clergyman, Pastor Stanford Simon, former Minister of State for Culture, Senator Arley Gill, as well as Siddiqui Sylvester, the former Chairman of the St. George North-west branch and Kenrick Fullerton, a former Chairman of the party.
According to Sen. Bernadine, the NDC was able to deal with its issues at the convention and has come out much stronger as a result.
She said the NDC has shown its ability to right the wrong, correct the mistakes, rally its troops, and was now getting ready for the election battle.
The new NDC Chairperson called on members to rally around the leader, and to give support to the Deputy, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance.
At a public rally hours later, Senior Government Minister Patrick Simmons called for a celebration of the “victory that was just won” in the election of the new executive.
However, Simmons told supporters at the meeting that within the celebration there is cause for serious concern and reminded them that the party is at the threshold of a next General Election, and urged them to get registered.
“I call upon you to go and register, and in so doing you would have a chance to ensure that the NDC under the leadership of the Honourable Tillman Thomas returns to Office,” he said.
The expulsion of the group of dissidents now ensures that Prime Minister and Political Leader Tillman Thomas remains in full control of the NDC.
Finance Minister Nazim Burke retains the number two position in the NDC with no one mounting a challenge.
Long standing member, Kent Joseph who once contested the 1995 and 1999 general elections for the Town of St. George, is the new Deputy Chairman of the party, while one of the Founding Fathers of NDC, Phinsley St. Louis is one of two Trustees. The other is Aaron Seethal.
Another long-standing member, Pauline Andrew who is the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee was elected as a Floor Member.
Andrew who is a former Tourism Minister joins Vincent Roberta and Petra Williams who is a new face to the executive at the three new Floor Members.
Small businessman, Bernard Isaac who up until the convention held the post of Treasurer, now holds the all-important position of General Secretary.
Isaac’s three assistants are Shane Ross in the Southern Zone, Ali Mathura in the Western Zone, and Phillip Alexander in the Eastern Zone.
The man now charged with the responsibility of managing the party’s finances is Phillip Telesford.
Information Minister in the government, Senator Glen Noel is the new Public Relations Officer. Ali Dowden who is a member of the St. George’s North West Constituency Branch would assist him.
The job of Recording Secretary went to Faye Thompson. She will be assisted by Miss 2008 Carnival Queen, Asheeda Charles who now holds the post of Assistant Recording Secretary.
Former Trade Unionist Elliot Bishop continues to hold onto the job of Labour Relations Officer.
The convention was held under the theme, “NDC Building A Winning Team To Continue The Mission.”
Prime Minister Thomas is now virtually in charge of a minority government with the expulsion of the five dissident MP’s among the group of ten.
He appears confident that the people would understand the need to rid the party of certain elements and will put back Congress in power to continue with its mission to rebuild the Grenadian economy after 13 years of rule by the main opposition New National Party (NNP).