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NDP looks for new leadership as Eustace quits

NDP looks for new leadership as Eustace quits


Outgoing President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace did not make the decision to resign on his own, but was, in fact, hounded out of office.

So says vice-president of the NDP St Clair Leacock.

“We should have allowed an appropriate time when common sense would have prevailed. But he should not have been hounded out of office,” Leacock stated in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.{{more}}

Leacock confirmed that a group of parliamentarians had, in fact, started the conversation about transitioning with Eustace; however, Leacock maintains that he was not a part of the exercise.

“I was not a part of that group of parliamentarians who triggered that exercise, but I can confirm that to be true. But I was not a part of that movement,” he stated adamantly.

And, while Leacock said that he did not believe Eustace should have contested another election as leader of the party, he believes that Eustace’s exit from the party was mismanaged.

“Well, I think that he has just singularly mismanaged his exit from the political party. Plain and straight and simple,” he stated.

Leacock noted that although the position of president and Leader of the Opposition have become open, he is not consumed by holding political office.

He, however, said that if the people wish for him to represent the NDP, he will oblige them.

“I am not consumed by holding political office; I am not consumed by being Prime Minister or holding political office.

“If it was the will of the vast majority of the supporters that I represent in the New Democratic Party, I will oblige,” he affirmed.

Leacock, who is also the parliamentary representative for Central Kingstown said that if he is not elected to lead the party, he will resign as vice-president.

“I would remain a member of the New Democratic Party, but at this stage I would also resign as vice-president of the New Democratic Party and make room for a younger person,” he indicated.

Leacock outlined that it is his unending track record in national development and his rise through the ranks that aptly qualify him for the position of president and Opposition Leader.

“I have an unending track record in the party, in the area of national development and that is witnessed by my contributions through the cadet force, the auxiliary police force, the Chamber of Commerce, the Employers Federation and the Football Federation and now the New Democratic Party, all of which I joined from the ground floor and rose to the top by dint of hard work and leadership,” he said.

And, if he is elected leader of the NDP, Leacock stated that he would deepen the vision in areas which he championed before.

“As one who originated for example, the Social and Spiritual Redemption Charter; who made claims for constituency development funds; who called for a state-of-the-art hospital; who has single-handedly written the manifesto of the New Democratic Party in 2005.”

He said he would promote economic reform for job opportunities, promote a vibrant private sector, develop strong agro-economic links in society, create a social and safety net for the elderly and create an essential role for the young people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“So, I would, in fact, take a more robust approach and disciplined life to the political organization. I would not let up on St Vincent becoming an export led economy where jobs and opportunities can be provided for all,” he said.

On Tuesday, Arnhim Eustace, at a meeting of the Central Committee of the NDP announced his decision to resign as Leader of the Opposition and president of the party.

Eustace first became leader of the NDP in October 2000 and served as Prime Minister for five months, until the general elections in March 2001, when the Unity Labour Party won government. Eustace then became Opposition Leader and has held that position since then.

SEARCHLIGHT tried, but was unable to reach Dr Godwin Friday, the second NDP vice-president for a response.

Leacock and Friday are considered front runners in the leadership race to replace Eustace as president of the party and Opposition Leader.