“Get ready! Get moving! Keep moving!”
Those were the words that resounded around the national stadium from Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell as he announced March 13 as the day that thousands of Grenadians will go to the polls and exercise their constitutional right to vote a new government into office.
Nomination day for all candidates wanting to contest the election will be Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
The controversial date for election has raised several eyebrows in the country given the significance of March 13 on the Grenada calendar.
March 13, 1979 saw the birth of the ill-fated Grenada Revolution as the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop seized power in a coup d’etat against the elected Eric Gairy labour party government.
Grenada’s Marxist experiment ended four-and-a-half years later as a radical faction that was loyal to Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard moved against Bishop who was executed on Fort George in a bloody uprising.
The late Ben Jones stunned the nation when he chose March 13, 1990 as the date for elections which saw the National Democratic Congress (NDC) winning the most seats to form the government.
It will be the second time in Grenada’s history that an election will be held on March 13 as Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) is seeking another five-year term.
The Queen’s Park rally was held to formally endorse the three remaining NNP candidates for the poll Dr. Mitchell in his St. George North-west stronghold, Works Minister Gregory Bowen (St. George South-east) and for former Congress General Secretary Peter David for the Town of St. George.
During his address, Prime Minister Mitchell announced that Parliament would be dissolved with effect from last Monday by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade.
He told thousands of party supporters that the country would totally be in the hands of a Cabinet of Ministers and there will no longer be any parliamentarians in place “until you vote.”
He said that Dame Cecile would issue writs on Tuesday to the Supervisor of Elections to place in the Government Gazette and at least one local newspaper in order to pave the way for the general election.
According to Dr. Mitchell, his 15-member team of candidates is ready for the election and referred to them as the better choice to continuing representing the people of Grenada.
He introduced the returning Candidate for St. Patrick West, Anthony Boatswain who is the Minister of Youth as an “essential member of the team” and the long-standing Bowen as one who “has stood the test of time, a brilliant mind, a sound executive, an effective minister, and a genuine friend”.
He was also high in praise for returning St. George South-east MP, Tobias Clement who upset former Finance Minister Nazim Burke to defeat him in the 2013 poll.
He predicted that Clement will give more “licks” on Burke on election day.
PM Mitchell said: “The next brother I am going to call is a maverick. Tobias Clement has a unique place in Grenada’s political history, when he finishes off once and for all his opponent in St. George’s North-East come…Toby, we can’t wait for that massive licks you’re gonna share in North East”.
In the case of St John’s Alvin Dabreo, the Prime Minister described him as one who “is small on talk but he is big on action” and the controversial David as “the people’s champion” and a man who “fights for the poor and vulnerable and anyone who seeks his help and St. David’s Joseph as “a man who have had tremendous experience in the public service here and in the region” and “a very essential member for the Cabinet of this country”.
“… I have learnt from him (Joseph) as others have learnt from me. Therefore, St. David’s once again, we give you Oliver Joseph”, said PM Mitchell.
Dr. Mitchell introduced rookie candidate, former school teacher Kate Lewis who is contesting her first election in the key St. Andrew North-east constituency “as someone with a bright future in politics” and candidate for Carriacou and Petite Martinique, attorney-at-law Kindra Maturine-Stewart as the better of the party’s choice for the sister isle.
This is a clear reference to the division in the NNP ranks over the selection of Maturine-Stewart over former Parliamentary Secretary for Carriacou & Petite Martinique, Nolan Cox who reportedly came out on top of internal polling for the selection of a candidate.
Dr. Mitchell is said to have offered Cox a position in the next government if he wins the election as a compromise for overlooking him.
PM Mitchell branded, Candidate for St. Mark, Dr. Clarice Modeste as an “undisputed Champion and said that he foresees “great things ahead” for former secondary head teacher, Pamela Moses who will be the new candidate for the St. Patrick East constituency.
The biggest praise was reserved for Health Minister Nickolas Steele, the NNP Candidate for South St. George who will be doing battle against Rae Roberts of the Congress party.
Steele who comes from a wealthy family is believed to be interested in the job of party leader and Prime Minister of the country.
Dr. Mitchell said: “Nickolas Steele is a genuine team player, even more importantly, being a businessman and a man who knows how to run things and get things done and create jobs…don’t be worried about his boyish looks…he is a brilliant mind, an astute politician…the other person in the south, they call him bad mouth Ray, leave Ray alone, leh he keep bad mouthing people”.
Two of the NNP’s contestants in the big parish, the Candidate for St. Andrew South-East, Emmalin Pierre and Candidate for St. Andrew North-West, Delma Thomas were introduced as persons who “are all about the people.
“Emmalin Pierre has a bright future in this politics. St. Andrew South-east, we (will) have a massive victory in that constituency”, PM Mitchell remarked.
He went on: “The next lady that I am going to introduce is a politician that I really would have wanted to be when I was growing up…no one has a bigger heart for people, no one has remained more grounded, no one has served the people’s agenda better, they did not call her the people’s minister for nothing, my little Sister Delma Thomas for St. Andrew North-West”.