The first major event held by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the New Year has attracted a large gathering of its supporters at Victoria Park in Grenville, St. Andrew.
The rally which lasted for nearly five hours took place within minutes of the party bringing an end to its 27th Convention at the nearby Grenville Secondary School (GSS).
The NDC is trying to rebound after the party suffered a humiliating defeat at the polls in February 2013 while in government to the New National Party (NNP) headed by Dr. Keith Mitchell who returned after a five year break to get his fourth term in office.
Guest speaker at the Rally was Deputy Political leader of the Antigua United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell whose party also suffered defeat at the polls in 2014.
Lovell urged the newly elected NDC Executive to adopt a new mindset in order to be successful politicians in this era.
The former Senator in the Antigua Parliament admonished the various Constituency Caretakers and those selected by the NDC to do work in the different constituencies to use their political office to “elevate and to empower the people through committed service.”
“Go and entrench yourselves in your constituencies. From Sauteurs to Point Saline your voices must be heard”, said Lovell amidst loud cheers from Congress supporters.
Stressing the importance of good leadership, Lovell reflected on the Convention’s theme, “Standing with the people to safeguard our economic livelihood and our democracy”.
He expressed the view that the theme “resonates not just in the Spice Isle but throughout the Caribbean” and that now is the time for the NDC Executive to stand with the people of Grenada.
“Now is the time to challenge this government on issues that affect the man in Gouyave and the woman in Grenville,” he told the large group of NDC supporters.
“I implore you tonight do not be discouraged…now is the time to reorganise, regroup, reflect and rejuvenate the party branches; to motivate the troops and to strategise for the victory of the party. Now is the time to give hope to those who feel hopeless, to be a voice to those whose voices cannot be heard and to give strength to those who may feel tired, to those who are weak and those who are weary”, he said.
Former Member of Parliament for the St Andrew South-west and Minister for Social Services, Sylvester Quarless lashed out at the policies being pursued by Prime Minister Mitchell since his return to power.
Quarless charged that the Grenadian leader who he referred to by his initials “KCM”can be considered the most transparent Prime Minister the country has ever had for taking bold and open decisions on matters affecting the country.
He said that the Prime Minister “is so transparent that for everybody to see KCM is attacking our institutions, our way of life and by extension our democracy”.
In a clear attack on the much-talked about “Project Grenada” agenda being pushed by two former Congress Rebels who have now teamed up with NNP – Peter David and Chester Humphrey, Quarless said they are now trying to create a one party state by pushing the new agenda of “One for all, all for one”.
He told the rally: “In plain view he (Mitchell) is finding ways to send home those that are not in his favour for all to see. KCM is hiring retirees, denying opportunities to young people to be gainfully employed. KCM takes away the (Free) School Books programme…without looking back he imposed tax and more tax.”
Former Health Minister Ann Peters who co-chaired the rally lambasted the NNP claiming that since it came into office its only achievement has been uniting the Grenadian people “in an institution of poverty”.
“I know they have been able to do one thing good, they have united us and brought us in the institution of poverty and all of us have graduated from that institution with a PhD – poor, harassed and distressed. That is what NNP has done for us – graduated all of us in the institution of poverty with PhDs, the former Senator told NDC supporters.
NDC’s Assistant Public Relations Officer, Randall Robinson disclosed that the Convention and Rally was streamed live attracting more than 4, 500 online listeners.
Most of the Executive members of the party were returned to their positions unopposed with the exception of a few minor changes made to the Executive in elections held.
There was no contest for the post of Political Leader as the party’s constitution stipulates that the position can only be contested every three years.
Joseph Andall was returned to his position as Deputy Political Leader, George Vincent as Chairman with Glen Noel serving as his Deputy and business woman Merle Byer as Treasurer.
Former Education Minister, Franka Alexis-Bernadine was re-elected to serve as Public Relations Officer, with her deputy once again being Randall Robinson.
The important post of General Secretary as the chief party organiser was retained by former Sports Minister, Patrick Simmons.
Simmons would be assisted by three Assistant General Secretaries – former floor member and veteran calypsonian, Elwyn “Black Wizard” Mc Quilkin who was elected Assistant General Secretary for the Eastern Zone; Ali Dowden for the Western Zone and Wade Phillip who will concentrate in the Southern Zone.
The post of Recording Secretary has been retained by Vincent Roberts and his Assistant is once again, Petra Williams.
The NDC delegates also elected – Frederick Parker, Dale Simon and Ian Thomas – to serve as floor members which guarantees them a place on the National Executive.
Although Prime Minister Mitchell has until 2018 to remain in office, many political pundits are beginning to predict that he will call general elections in 2016 or 2017 for the latest.