Grenada’s main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has indicated its total readiness for the upcoming general elections widely expected within the next few months.
Party leader, former Finance Minister Nazim Burke said that Sunday’s endorsement of Trade unionist, Ray Roberts as its Caretaker/Candidate for the South St. George constituency brings an end to the process to put all fifteen persons in charge of the various constituencies across the island.
In addressing the ceremony held at Camerhogne Park in the south of the island, Sen. Burke said that the endorsement of Roberts was an historic moment for NDC.
“It marks the end of a journey that was started almost five years ago to rebuild our party and to select to represent us in the upcoming elections, a team of 15 competent patriotic Grenadians,” he said.
Congress was crushed 15-0 in the 2013 poll by the New National Party (NNP) following deep internal feuding by a faction led by former General Secretary, Peter David that was wrestling with then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas for control of the decision-making process.
David has now joined forces with NNP under an initiative known as “Project Grenada” that also includes veteran trade unionist Chester Humphrey, former Congress Chairman Colin LaBarrie and ex-NDC government minister, Joseph Gilbert.
Burke recalled the expulsion of those NDC members back in 2012 and accused them of trying to run a party within a party and their own government within the Congress administration.
He praised the decision of Sen. Roberts to come forward to associate himself with the NDC in charting the way forward.
“Sisters and Brothers, we are extremely proud to have Brother Ray Roberts in our line-up. We are proud because we do not have a person here who is doing it because he wants to get rich (or) because he wants to full his pocket at the expense of the people…”.
“We are proud of Brother Ray because he has demonstrated commitment to his country. He has worked in the public service for years and has served his country with honour and dignity.
“He has fought for the labour movement and has worked with the labour movement for years. He has demonstrated commitment to self and community development for years; has shown himself to be a man that is prepared to fight for the cultural heritage of our country. That is why today sisters and brothers he chose to have this event at Camerhogne Park.”
Sen. Burke noted that it was Sen. Roberts who championed the cause of many persons in the country to fight against the Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime to save the “legendary park” from being sold to a foreign hotel developer.
The Congress leader also gave assurance that whenever the NDC forms the government of Grenada “we will ensure that every single piece of our heritage…are protected forever and that no government would be allowed to take it and do what they want.”
“We call on the people of St. George South to give this gentleman (Roberts) your unconditional support … you have seen that he is prepared to stand up and defend the interest of the people with courage and honour…and today sisters and brothers we want to say we are one step closer to elections and one step closer to victory…”, he said.
“We ready now,” Sen. Burke further declared.
Sunday’s endorsement ceremony for Sen. Roberts was also attended by several NDC caretakers like Ali Dowden of St. George North-west, Patrick Simmons (St. Andrew South-east, Sylvester Quarless (St. Andrew South-west), Terry Hillaire (St. Andrew North-east) and Adrian ‘Persuader’ Thomas (St. David).
NDC South St. George campaign manager, Terry Moore told the gathering that “Brother Ray” (as he is affectionately called) has all the elements of what a representative should be”.
Moore said: “He (Roberts) is a man for the people, a man of the people and a man who loves people and wants to see them get ahead with their lives…Despite Ray’s physical challenges, he never let that bother him. He has taken the bull by the horn (and) has done what he has to…”.
“…Ray is a man who fixes problems, Ray will fix the problem…He listens well, articulates well (and) is a man that stands up for what he believes and he believes that Camerhogne Park should remain for the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”, he added.
According to Moore, Sen. Roberts who served the Labour movement in the upper House of Parliament was able to represent and champion the rights of workers in this country, as well as articulate a number of pertinent issues relating to workers’ rights.
The NDC Executive member for the south also praised the new Caretaker for the vigilant role he has played and continues to play on the Camerhogne Park issue in the face of threats by the Mitchell-led government to hand it over to a private sector concern.
Moore also referred to Roberts as a prominent seasoned journalist (and) broadcaster, a skilled sportsman who represented Grenada in a number of table tennis tournaments and one who served on many youth and community development groups and committees in the country and a former President of the now defunct Grand Anse Progressive Youth Group.
In welcoming Sen. Roberts to the NDC fold, Caretaker candidate for the constituency of St. Patrick East, Social Worker, Ann John labelled him “as an outstanding leader, a true patriot and statesman, who is the ideal man to represent the NDC in the constituency of South St. George”.
“The NDC could have not attracted a better person than Brother Ray, a man of strong and impeccable character, a man of faith who plays an important role in his church, a nationalist, a regionalist, a man of all seasons,” she said.
John’s words were echoed by other top members of Congress including Caretaker for the St. George South-east Constituency, Sen. Franka Alexis-Bernardine who served as Education Minister during 2008-13.
She noted that “Brother Ray is a person who is very involved with what’s happening in society,” adding “and that is what you need as a good representative”.
Expressing strong belief that “Ray has the integrity, values and morals to carry out this role in a principle way,” Sen. Bernardine assured the gathering that “we (NDC) have moved from (a) party of electoral defeat in just under five years ago to strength (and) consistency, holding firmly together, working hard and hand in hand with our Grenadian brothers and sisters, young and old and today we have emerged as the strongest party with competence for the Government of Grenada in the next five years”.