A leading figure from the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, Vincent Roberts has taken over the post of Chairman of Grenada’s main opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Roberts replaced Sen. George Vincent, the party’s caretaker candidate for St. John in elections held Sunday at the annual convention of Congress held at the Hermitage Government Primary School in St. Patrick’s.
The election also saw ex-government member, Glen Noel taking over the key position of General Secretary from former Youth & Sports Minister, Patrick Simmons.
Prior to the convention, NDC officials dropped hints about some “strategic changes” to the National Executive in order to give caretaker candidates more time to do work at the constituency level.
Dr. Vincent is expected to run in St. John while Simmons will be seeking to regain the St. Andrew South-east seat that he lost in the 2013 poll to current Youth & Sports Minister, Emmalin Pierre.
Noel previously held the post of Deputy Chairman of the party and Roberts was its Recording Secretary.
During the elections, Joseph Andall was returned unopposed to the post of Deputy Political Leader of Congress.
Party leader, former Finance Minister, Nazim Burke remains at the helm since under NDC’s constitution he is entitled to serve a 3-year term, which ends in 2017.
President of the Women’s Arm, Jenny Simon was elected at the convention to serve as Deputy Chairperson of the party.
The other members of the Congress Executive are Fred Parker as Recording Secretary with his assistant being Jerry Marryshow, Merle Byer remains Treasurer, and the floor members are Dale Simon, Terry Noel, and Wallace Mc Cloud.
Delegates also elected Wade Phillip and Elwin “Black Wizard” McQuilkin to remain in their positions as Assistant General Secretaries for the South and East respectively.
The third Assistant General Secretary for the West coast area went to Adria Dharangit.
Former Education Minister, Franka Bernadine will no longer serve as Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Congress, giving up the position to Randal Robinson, who previously served as her deputy.
Sen. Bernadine is expected to stand in the next general elections as one of the party’s 15 candidates.
Ron Redhead who is believed to be a member of the NDC St. George North-west constituency branch will assist Robinson in the area of Public Relations.
Former Trade Unionist Elliot Bishop retains the job as Labour Relations Officer.
The Congress Political Leader who addressed a public meeting following the convention said the decision “to have a new executive” with a number of new faces is not by accident.
Sen. Burke who accepted the leadership position of NDC in 2014 said that after reflecting on the party’s present political situation and the task ahead they felt that it was extremely important for Congress to not have members of the party who are Caretakers and are likely to be Candidates for the party in the next General Elections that are constitutionally due in 2018 to sit on the executive holding positions.
“We felt it was extremely important for them to give up their Offices, vacate those positions and go into the trenches, go into the communities, go into the constituencies and engage the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique explaining to them why we say a change is necessary in our country,” Sen. Burke told the public meeting.
Under the NDC Constitution, Caretakers and Candidates become automatic members of the executive.
Sen. Burke also gave an overview of what was achieved during the 28th annual convention.
He said delegates were able to engage in very firm and frank discussions on a number of issues affecting Grenada.
Congress also engaged in in-depth discussion on the current state of affairs of the country with the economic challenges being faced by the population, the country’s constitutional reform process involving a Referendum which is scheduled to take place by the first quarter of this year, and government’s moves to relocate Camerhogne Park.
Sen. Burke said discussions also centered in the convention on the current position of the NDC and the steps needed to improve the quality of life for the country.
Congress has been trying to rebuild following its disappointed showing in the last general elections in 2013 when it failed to win any of the 15 parliamentary seats.