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Dr Gonsalves: Just stay on your marks

Dr Gonsalves: Just stay on your marks


There is no doubt that there is an election looming here. Last Sunday evening the Unity Labour Party staged another rally, this time in the North Leeward Town of Chateaubelair.

And judging from the response of the crowd, and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ assessment of the situation, he might be tempted to call the poll earlier than he had perhaps at first anticipated. {{more}}

“Yo’ putting pressure on me. Yo’ putting real pressure on me,” Dr. Gonsalves said.

He was pumped up by the size of the crowd which according to him was between 16,000 and 20,000 strong.

The rally was staged on the small Sharpes Playing Field in Chateaubelair, and with the convergence of the supporters, there was a virtual road block which affected the area.

Some persons were forced to walk from the neighbouring village of Petit Bordel about a mile south to get over to Chateaubelair, as traffic was brought to a stand still. And the streets within the town were also packed with people and vehicles.

Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves was evidently buoyed by the crowd but he kept them in suspense.

“On your marks,” Dr. Gonsalves shouted. The supporters clad in red outfits and waving various symbols of party identification might have expected the date to be announced. But Dr Gonsalves held it to “on your marks” only.

“Just stay on your marks. I will tell you when to get set,” the Prime Minister outlined.

Dr. Gonsalves seems to be keeping his cards close to his chest, and there was no hint of a likely election date.

The poll is due no later than July next year. The last one was March 28, 2001 when the Unity Labour Party led by Dr. Gonsalves won 12 of the fifteen seats.

The Boundaries Commission has submitted its proposals to the House of assembly, and a final decision is expected.

So far, there have been no announcements of any additional constituencies to be part of the next polling, but there will be alterations to some of the existing constituency boundaries. Those that will be affected are North Windward, East St. George and West St. George.

The Chateaubelair rally also heard from area representative Dr. Jerrol Thompson. Dr. Thompson is planning to retain the seat by a bigger margin than he did in 2001.

He was ushered onto the platform by a cultural ensemble featuring the Rose Bank drummers, complete with a tenor pan.

And even before Dr. Thompson spoke, he was given some lessons in traditional dance by Tourism and Culture Minister Rene Baptiste, while the Rose Bank Drummers thrilled the audience with pulsating rhythms.

It was a carefully choreographed session by the ULP. Education Minister Clayton Burgin, Health Minister Dr. Douglas Slater, Social Development Minster Selman walters, Senators Glen Beache, and Edwin Snagg aroused the throng in their particular styles.

Leopold Anthony, the musician from the North Leeward village of Trouamca also came in for special mention by the Culture Minister Rene Baptiste. She plans to honour him.

Anthony is one of the nation’s icons. He recently returned from Cuba where he spent three weeks as part of the “Vision Now” eye care programme.

The feature address at Chateaubelair came from Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. Dr. Gonsalves was diplomatic in his presentation. He cited confusion within the NDP, but he still wants them to “panic little more.”

The Prime Minister alluded to differences in the NDP camp. He mentioned that founding father and former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell was disappointed with NDP leader Arnhim Eustace.

He told the crowd that no “foreign troops” had operated in St. Vincent since his assumption to office.

“We maintain law and order with our own people,” he stated in reference to the use of helicopters employed under previous regimes to destroy marijuana cultivation on the island’s northern mountain range.

The Prime Minister reminded those who had recently turned 18 to register.

“Go and register your name. That is why I tell you get on your mark,” Dr. Gonsalves warned.

There was an additional word of encouragement for National Insurance Services pensioners.

“I am going to increase all the benefits,’ Dr. Gonsalves pointed out. Those increases will come in October, but Prime Minister promised that he will back date the payments to July 1.