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Camillo says he’s not an election candidate

Camillo says he’s not an election candidate

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Camillo Gonsalves, son of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has not been identified as the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for East St George or any other constituency for the next general elections, constitutionally due in 2015.{{more}}

“St Vincent is nothing, if not a hotbed of political intrigue and rumour. And talk and speculation and any discussion of me being a candidate anywhere, will fall into one of those categories: intrigue, gossip, speculation,” the younger Gonsalves, this country’s ambassador to the United Nations, told SEARCHLIGHT on Friday.

It was widely rumoured over the past few weeks that Camillo had been identified as the ULP candidate to contest the East St George constituency, which Housing Minister Clayton Burgin has represented since 2001.

“As far as I know, the ULP has a process whereby candidates are selected. That process has not commenced. There has been no identification of me, or, to my knowledge, of anybody else, either the incumbent holder of the seat or any seat that was contested in the last election.”

Camillo has said that he is interested in electoral politics here. Asked if he has given further consideration to running in 2015, he said:

“[Former prime minister Sir] James Mitchell has children. [Opposition Leader] Arnhim Eustace has children. [Prime Minister Dr] Ralph Gonsalves has children. Most of the men and women in leadership positions in this country have children. From time to time, they will be asked these questions. Some will have a stronger interest than others, quite naturally. But there is nothing to announce.”

He restated his interest “in the process”, but told SEARCHLIGHT he had not “expressed a desire to run” to the ULP.

“I have not selected a constituency nor has a constituency selected me.”

Camillo, who is based in New York, noted several months ago that he is “not on the ground” in St Vincent.

“Before you begin any conversation about who should run where, I think it should be a conversation about who is on the ground and available,” he told SEARCHLIGHT on Friday.

“And I don’t mean sort of parachuting in the day before an election. I think somebody would have to be known wherever they are and so on. So, it is speculation,” he further said of talks that he has been identified as a candidate.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told Vincentians in Taiwan in May that he will lead the ULP in 2015 election.

He, however, mentioned Culture Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie, Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar, Social Development Minister Frederick Stephenson, Senators Elvis Charles and David Browne, Kingstown’s envoy to Washington La Celia Prince, and Camillo among potential party leaders.

“I am told that he may be interested, but the point about it is this: you have to come home and be there on the ground,” the prime minister said of his son.

“He has been consistent — the Prime Minister — in saying that he is not going to select candidates who are overseas, who have not established roots somewhere in their community, or who don’t have ties to their community,” Camillo said of the comments by the Prime Minister, who is the political leader of the ULP.

“I grew up in Frenches, but East Kingstown, which is currently occupied by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, the ULP, to my knowledge has a candidate and, as far as I know, that candidate will be the candidate again in the next election,” Camillo further said.

“I could be wrong. I have no information on that. But I am not on the ground and I don’t think the ULP has a practice of running people who are not on the ground.”

In the 2010 general elections, the ULP’s Luke Browne failed to unseat Eustace, who has been representing East Kingstown since 1998.

During his trip to St Vincent last week, Camillo, the prime minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Douglas Slater discussed logistical matters in the lead up to the UN general assembly this month.

The diplomat also took the opportunity to visit relatives “and be a tourist for a couple days”.

Camillo told SEARCHLIGHT that Kingstown did not have its usual consultations with its envoys in July and it was the first time that he was in St Vincent for the summer. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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