The resignation of former Tourism Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel from government has virtually cleared the way for Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to look to someone else to contest her South St. George constituency in the upcoming general election.
Health Minister Nickolas Steele has immediately said that he is prepared to take on the task if the ruling New National Party (NNP) wants him to run for the seat.
Steele is said to be facing a stiff challenge from former MP for the Town, Peter David who has now joined forces with NNP after he was expelled from the main opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that David’s supporters especially in the River Road area are giving conditional support to the ruling party provided that the Ex-General Secretary of Congress is given the nod over Steele for the Town of St. George constituency.
Against this background, the senior government minister told reporters at last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing that he is prepared to go wherever the party wants him.
“I remain willing to serve. I think Sen. Peter David has said he is willing to serve – both he and I have said publicly, if he runs in the town I will support him and if I run in the town he will support me”, he remarked.
Minister Steele acknowledged that Otway-Noel’s resignation will result in some changes within the ruling party but in the end that will only be determined by Leader of the Party, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell.
“As to who will run in which constituency, there’s time still and there may be changes like the Prime Minister has intimated publicly that quite likely there will be changes. We wait to see what those changes are. There is a process; a party process which the party will decide who are the best individuals to run in various constituencies”, he said.
“…Times have changed; one individual’s appeal in a constituency in 2013 may change now and there may be other individuals that may be better suited to serve the people of the constituency as time moves forward. So, all of these things will be taken into the consideration,” he added.
According to MP Steele, whatever decision will be made along those lines will be up to PM Mitchell.
“This party has choices. I think because we have choices that it may be creating some confusion in the public forum and most definitely creating confusion for our opposition. We have choices and we will look at those choices and make the best decision in the interest of the country and the party”, he told reporters.
“…I will be comfortable as an NNP participant, member of a government and running in an election where Dr. Keith Mitchell is the leader of the New National Party. So, my intention is to serve the people of Grenada through the New National Party, however, the political leader of the New National Party sees fit,” he said.
Otway-Noel resigned from her ministerial portfolio two weeks ago and announced that she intends to pursue some “exciting opportunities” in the private sector.
Party insiders have confided in this newspaper that the relationship between Prime Minister Mitchell and Otway-Noel have become rather strained in recent years.
The first positive indication came when Dr. Mitchell removed her from the prestigious position of Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation and placed her within the Office of the Prime Minister to look after one of the portfolios assigned to him.
According to one party source, there have been engagements between the Prime Minister and the MP in recent weeks on the future of her South St. George constituency based on recent polls conducted that showed her to be in not good standing.
She said that Dr. Mitchell expected Otway-Noel to go at some stage but was taken aback by the quick manner in which she submitted her resignation letter and walked out of the government.
The Otway-Noel family has often had a love-hate relationship with the NNP with the minister’s father walking out of NNP several years ago after launching a blistering attack on Mitchell as a leader.