Former Opposition Leader, Michael Baptiste says he has no intention of co-operating with a group of expelled members of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who on Tuesday formally launched a new political party called the National Unity Front (NUF).
In a telephone interview from New York with THE NEW TODAY, Baptiste said that he was approached by two of the leading figures in the new political organization, former Labour Minister, Glynis Roberts and attorney-at-law, Feron Lowe for use of the Rising Sun as the symbol of NUF which was launched at a brief ceremony at Grenada Grand Beach Resort.
The Rising Sun is already the symbol of the United Workers Party (UWP) that Baptiste formed and registered with the Electoral Office.
According to Baptiste, he received a telephone call from Roberts, the current Member of Parliament for South St. George early Monday informing him that they had run into a problem with their attempt to adopt The Rising Sun as their own symbol.
He spoke of the female politician pointing out to him that it was only when they visited the electoral Office to register the party and the symbol that they got to know that another party had the Rising Sun as its symbol.
He said that Roberts made a request of him to allow NUF to use the symbol and for UWP to inform the electoral Office to this effect.
The female Parliamentarian did not answer her telephone despite several calls made by THE NEW TODAY to get her reaction to the issue.
Baptiste was adamant that he would not co-operate on this issue with Roberts and her colleagues, accusing them of engaging in behavior that was tantamount to a betrayal of all those who joined forces in July 2008 to help defeat the then ruling New National Party (NNP) of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Baptiste, a former MP for St. Andrew South-west, had appeared on several NDC platforms in the last election to help the party with its crushing 11-4 victory over NNP at the last polls.
Within recent years, Prime Minister Thomas has been forced to grapple for power with a rival faction within the government and party led by his former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter David.
The Prime Minister and his supporters moved against the group of dissidents on September 30 when delegates at the party’s convention voted overwhelmingly to expel David, Roberts and eight others including three sitting MP’s – Michael Church (St. John), Karl Hood (St. George South-east, and (Joseph Gilbert (St. Patrick West).
Baptiste dismissed those behind the formation of NUF as people who are not yet ready for frontline politics since there is no excuse for them making a simple mistake over the symbol.
“This is the first thing they should have done before going to the Electoral Office to register the symbol. They should have checked to see who had what symbol before going to the Electoral Office and making a fool of themselves. They ain’t ready yet”, he remarked.
Baptiste said that MP Roberts pleaded with him to allow NUF to take over the symbol since the party had already gone ahead and put “The Rising Sun” symbol on its letterhead and other documents, as well as the invitation card that it sent out to several persons inviting them to Tuesday’s launch at Grand Beach.
He stated that he got the impression from Roberts, but could not confirm it that the ex-NDC members had also prepared some jerseys with the UWP symbol on it in order to help promote their new party.
Baptiste stressed that there is simple no good reason why he should offer any help to the likes of Roberts, Lowe and David who are doing everything possible to bolster the chances of NNP in the upcoming general elections.
“I can’t understand these people (in NUF). They should have remained with NDC to help fight against the little boy (Keith Mitchell). That is what they should be doing all now instead of doing all this stupidness that will only help the little boy out”, he said.
According to Baptiste it was against his conscience to support anyone engaged in political activities that will only serve the purposes of Mitchell and NNP.
He said that like Prime Minister Thomas and NDC, the common enemy is Dr. Mitchell and he has no intention of aiding and abetting the NNP leader and his party in the upcoming national poll.
Baptiste is due to return home for the Christmas holiday period and might stay around for sometime in case Prime Minister Thomas calls general elections.
The former Opposition Leader is currently weighting his political options but pointed out that one thing is certain and that is he would be an active participant in the elections.
In recent months, Baptiste has been forced to repel several emissaries working on behalf of the NNP especially in the New York area urging him “to bury the hatchet with Dr. Mitchell” and to join forces with NNP to help the party return to power in the forthcoming general elections.
The two became bitter political enemies after the 2003 general elections and especially after Prime Minister Mitchell and his government instituted a criminal case against Baptiste on allegations that he had diverted Japanese funds for whaling into his personal bank account.
The case never got started in the Magistrate Court and after the downfall of the NNP in 2008, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Nelson moved to have the case taken off the list.
Meanwhile, this newspaper understands that NUF executive member, Feron Lowe tendered his resignation Monday to Prime Minister Thomas from his politically appointed position in the Ministry of Agriculture as Policy Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, Denis Lett.
Sources have said that this was expected in light of leaked documents from a private NUF meeting in which he indicated that it was only ethical of him to resign from government to become a member of the new party.
Lowe has often been referred to as one of the strongest allies of David, The two of them are partners in the law firm of Ciboney Chambers.
Speculation is rife that Lowe might have his eyes on the St. George South-east seat as the NUF candidate in the general election.