Simmons: NDC is ready for elections

General Secretary of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Patrick Simmons says the 27-year old political party is ready to contest the next General Elections whenever called by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Simmons said he is satisfied that NDC is making tremendous progress with the re-organisation of the party to make sure that it was prepared for the next national poll.

“That is what it’s all about. It is all about getting ready, being prepared and making sure that we have all systems in place. There would always be room for improvement,” he told the host of the weekly NDC Heartbeat programme.

His remarks were made against the backdrop of an article which appeared in last week’s issue of THE NEW TODAY newspaper which dropped hints about a possible snap election by PM Mitchell.

The paper quoted informed NNP insiders as saying that the ruling party is giving consideration to calling the election as early as 2016 – two years before it is constitutionally due in 2018 out of a belief that opponents are not fully ready for national elections.

NDC suffered a humiliating 15-0 defeat in the 2013 General Elections, losing all seats for the second time to Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP).

Without going into details, Simmons said there are certain areas NDC needs to work on in preparation for the next General Elections.

“The National Democratic Congress is on the move, we’re making progress and, at the end of the day, whenever that General Election is called, we will be ready to take on whatsoever is to come,” he added.

NDC was formed in 1987 by the late Prime Minister George Brizan, and Constitutional Lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis, and it ruled Grenada on two different occasions.

Its first stint in office was in 1990 under Sir Nicholas Brathwaite when it won with seven seats, and then again in 2008 under Tillman Thomas following its 11-4 victory at the polls over NNP.

This newspaper understands that Congress has identified most of its 15 candidates for the next elections except in a few constituencies in St. George’s.

The party will most likely be running newcomers in frontline politics in St. Patrick East, St. George South, and Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

Simmons also used the radio programme to applaud the island’s star athlete, Kirani James on his bronze medal at the just-ended World Athletics Championships held at the Bird’s Nest stadium in China.

A former national sportsman himself, Simmons said he is satisfied with the fast timing produced on August 26 by the Olympic Gold Medallist in the Men’s 400 metres at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) World Championships in Beijing.

He noted that it must be recognized that the three top athletes, South African Wayde Van Niekerk , American LaShawn Merritt, and James, were all eager to win the event and could have won it on their own.

The 22-year old Grenadian athlete who won the title in 2011 at the age of 18, and then lost it two years later to Merritt at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, had to settle for the bronze medal after he was defeated by Van Niekerk who captured the gold medal, and his long-time rival Merritt taking the silver medal.

Van Nierkerk raced his way to the first position in a time of 43.47 seconds, Merritt clocked 43.65 seconds, and James finished in a time of 43.78 seconds.

The Gun Battle Resident of Gouyave, St. John’s, who was determined to take back the title from Merritt who is considered to be his closest rival, made his way to the final by winning heat number four in a time of 44.56 seconds, and then went on to come out on top in the first semi-final round by posting a time of 44.17 to qualify for last Wednesday’s final.

Simmons said it must be noted that coming out of the race there were improved timing and performance from the three top finishers.

He said those who just wanted to see James capture the gold medal would have probably felt bad that he did not get the gold.

“But those who are more analytical, and looking at the event from the perspective of performance, we should all be proud of the performance put on by Kirani James, not only Kirani, but also Wayde and Merritt, because we recognised that the three athletes had improved performances and best performances in that particular event. So (the) 2015 IAAF (World) Championships really brought out the best in the 400 metres, so as Grenadians, we should all be proud that Kirani did make us proud in that particular event,” he remarked.

Simmons said with Grenada being featured prominently on the world stage with both James and other athletes who have been performing creditably, the former NDC Administration looked at Sports as part of its economic pillars – health and wellness, tourism, and education.

The former Sports Minister said Congress sees sports as a major tool for health and wellness in Grenada.

“I can safely say (that) on returning to Office that we’ll just have to continue looking at these areas, and to continue the development of Sports in that regard”, he told the host of the programme.

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