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ULP will win 13, possibly 14 seats – PM Gonsalves

ULP will win 13, possibly 14 seats – PM Gonsalves

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A new talking point was added to the build-up to the next general elections with the announcement on Saturday night by leader of the ruling Unity Labour Party, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, that the pending poll will be his last at the helm of the party.{{more}}

Speaking at a rally in Barrouallie to mark the ULP’s 13th anniversary in government, Gonsalves called for “one last one for the comrade” when he rings the bell for the elections, constitutionally due by December 2015.

Gonsalves told the rally that after the upcoming elections he wants to serve out the next term focussing on representing his North Central Windward constituency, for which he has been parliamentary representative since 1994, and which he thanked for making him just the seventh elected member of parliament since adult suffrage to serve 20 years – the others being Sir James Mitchell, Ebenezer and Ivy Joshua, Levi Latham, Sir Vincent Beache and Milton Cato.

Gonsalves predicted an improved showing for the ULP in the upcoming polls, announcing that the party will win 13 and possibly 14 seats. The ULP currently holds eight seats in Parliament to the NDP’s seven. He acknowledged that winning the Northern Grenadines seat ‘will take a near miracle’, but said the Opposition New Democratic Party’s recent poor treatment of party founder and former Northern Grenadines representative Sir James Mitchell makes it look like they want the miracle to happen.

Gonsalves also hinted that he will soon be ready to ring the bell and that the campaign will not be long.

“When I told you on your marks (at the ULP’s annual convention in January), I wasn’t making joke”, he said at Saturday’s rally, adding that it’s a short rope he will use to hang the Opposition NDP.

Speaking on his party’s preparation for the pending poll, Gonsalves repeated his promise, first made at the ULP convention, that he will soon settle the contests and other selection issues among potential candidates “in North and South Leeward and other constituencies.” At least two persons are seeking the party’s  nod in both North and South Leeward, and there have been a number of names, besides the incumbent representative or caretaker, being associated with other constituencies. Gonsalves gave a strong hint that in one of those constituencies, his son, current Foreign Minister Camillo Gonsalves, may become a first time candidate. He threw out a challenge to the NDP candidate for East St George Dr Linton Lewis, saying: “If you want to make character an issue in the election in relation to Camillo, we are ready for the debate.” East St George is currently held by the ULP’s Clayton Burgin, the Health Minister.

Gonsalves was the main speaker at Saturday’s rally.

Also addressing the large crowd were deputy party leader Girlyn Miguel, and the two Ministers whose Ministries are at the forefront of the post flood rehabilitation efforts – Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar and Housing Minister Montgomery Daniel.

Caesar spoke to the recently launched farmers support programme which is helping farmers to rehabilitate their fields and plans for an enhanced marketing strategy; and Daniel told the meeting of the programme to build and repair over 100 homes for flood victims.

The rally also heard from Central Leeward representative Maxwell Charles and his predecessor Sir Louis Straker. It was chaired by ULP general secretary Senator Julian Francis.

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