The New National Party’s choices of general election candidates in almost half of the seats that are being contested is causing ripples among politicians and members, WIC News understands.
After the debacle involving Terry Forrester – who sources have described as simply the first of many hoping to speak out – there are rumours of “confusion” among NNP members and a trend emerging of discontent.
And one supporter, who agreed to speak if only identified as a friend of a prominent party member, said: “People aren’t really sure what to make of the choices and decisions. And do not understand what Prime Minister Mitchell is doing.”
Among the issues being spoken about on the ground is how long Keith Mitchell – who has been PM since 2013 and also from 1995 to 2008 – will cling to power, and what plans are in place for a post-Mitchell NNP.
Nazim Burke, leader of the National Democratic Congress and de facto opposition in Grenada, said that it was “significant” that after 28 years at the head of his party Mitchell says he is unable to find a successor.
“It is hurtful for the country as no one person has a monopoly on ideas or a monopoly on truth. Grenada can benefit from collective wisdom.”
Long-standing member of the NNP, Terry Forrester, broke ranks earlier this month and complained of mistreatment by his party leader.
Forrester spoke publicly after being overlooked as a possible election candidate for the St George South constituency on multiple occasions, with Health Minister Nickolas Steele chosen for the next vote, as well as being turned down when he asked to serve in the Senate.
He said that “he kept smiling and pretending everything was fine” despite not being given any reasons for “being continually turned down”.
“The appointment of Steele is unconstitutional by the party’s constitution. Steele was selected and not elected,” he said, adding that he had written to the Chairman of the party (Gregory Bowen) requesting that there be a process of campaigning and voting for those keen to be appointed caretaker.
Forrester was also unable to get his diplomatic passport back – which he says he wanted to ease travel for his wife, who was fighting cancer. She died last year.
And although Forrester has apologised for apparent disloyalty to Mitchell, despite also accusing the prime minister of spreading lies, he will be running as an independent in the constituency.
St George South isn’t the only place that is mired in what Forrester called the “undemocratic and dictatorial style that we have experienced over the years.”
Carriacou’s veteran MP Elvin Nimrod, who is also deputy prime minister, is believed to have come under pressure from those in the party to retire, and the election method to find his replacement appears to echo Forrester’s criticisms.
WIC News understands that an internal poll placed lawyer Kindra Maturine-Stewart in last place behind two others, yet she was confirmed as caretaker in June.
And aside from splitting the constituency vote between Maturine-Stewart and initial front-runner Nolan Cox, the effects of the party’s decision appear to have spread to other potential candidates.
One insider said at least one high-profile figures may not run because of the treatment of Nimrod.
Many believe that the manoeuvring by Mitchell is down to issues regarding the 70-year-old’s future successor, who is said to be fearful of losing power.
One controversial choice is Peter David, the former General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, who is now a member of the NNP and seen as close to Keith Mitchell.
David is down to contest the St George seat at the next election but it’s unclear how the ‘old guard’ of the party would feel about the former NDC man taking over.
WIC News has reached out to the prime minister’s office to add their comment to the story but have received no replies to multiple emails.
NDC leader Nazim Burke has commended Forrester for coming forward and speaking his mind, telling WIC News that he sees a pattern of unhappiness with the NNP.
“His statements were very profound. Very telling in many respects, and presented in a most credible and honest manner. His observations have very far reaching implications for our democracy, our system of governance and our country,” Burke said.
“Above all, he painted a picture of Dr Mitchell, our prime minister as ungrateful, spiteful, callous, abusive, vindictive, dictatorial, and prone to telling blatant lies.
“He pointed (out) that it was actually getting worse as Dr Mitchell got older, and these are statements coming from a man who knew him very intimately. They have been working together, very closely, for the last 33 years.
“It is embarrassing to hear him speak of our country’s prime minister in such unflattering terms. The observation is clear: members of the party and the government are afraid of the prime minister and cannot seriously question anything he says or does – they’re a bunch of yes men.”