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Cruickshank disagrees with Leacock’s assessment of Eustace’s departure

Cruickshank disagrees with Leacock’s assessment of Eustace’s departure

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WHILE New Democratic Party (NDP) vice-president St Clair Leacock is of the view that outgoing leader of the NDP Arnhim Eustace was hounded out of the party, general secretary Allan Cruickshank is saying that is not the case.

“He has chosen and let me note that, let me underline that, he thinks this is the time for him to depart,” Cruickshank emphasized, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.{{more}}

The timing of Eustace’s departure may have surprised some people, seeing that only a few months ago, he had indicated in an interview with a journalist that he would let the members of the NDP make the decision about whether he should stay or go at the party’s upcoming convention.

But Cruickshank said members of the party’s Central Committee were not surprised, as there had been discussion about Eustace’s transition for a few weeks prior to the announcement.

“The conversation has been going for a few weeks now … It didn’t come as shock for us.”

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the discussion about the leadership transition was led by three of the party’s elected Parliamentarians.

St Clair Leacock, one of the vice-presidents of the party, yesterday denied that he was part of the team of three that pushed forward the discussion. The other elected members are Godwin Friday, Nigel “Nature” Stephenson, Terrance Ollivierre and Roland “Patel” Matthews.

However, while he has stepped down as Leader of the Party, Eustace will remain the constituency representative for East Kingstown.

“You know he can’t just walk out; he has to groom somebody and go around and market the person and that sort of thing,” Cruickshank explained.

“He has clearly indicated that he is not going to contest any more elections,” he added.

A release from the NDP issued on Wednesday said that Eustace announced his decision to resign as leader of the Opposition and as president of the NDP at a meeting of the Central Committee on Tuesday.

According to the release, Eustace thanked the Central Committee for their support over the years and expressed his satisfaction in serving the NDP. He noted that he is fully prepared to lend his support to his successor as Leader of the Opposition and president of the NDP.

“Members present praised and thanked Mr Eustace for his outstanding contribution to the party and to the country and pledged to host a special event in honour of his long and dedicated service,” the release said.

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.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Cruickshank explained that while the NDP does have two functioning vice-presidents, they have not yet indicated their interest in the now vacant post as president of the NDP.

“In this case, even though it’s not stated, there are two very active vice-presidents…. It is something that we are examining very carefully and we may well go to one very shortly. But for the time being, there are two vice presidents… they haven’t indicated to me personally as yet… But at this stage I really cannot say,” he said.

The two vice-presidents are St Clair Leacock, and Godwin Friday, parliamentary representatives for Central Kingstown and the Northern Grenadines respectively.

Cruickshank, however, made it clear that although neither of the two men have indicated their interest to him, that does not mean they are not interested in leadership.

“…I don’t think that it’s safe to say that neither of them is considering the matter, but at the same time I cannot say for sure that they are, neither do I have any indication from anybody outside of that unit at this particular moment. There is a lot of talk going around, but I cannot openly say that Friday and Leacock are vying for the position.”

Cruickshank also indicated that apart from constituency delegates, anyone who has been a financial card carrying member of the NDP for more than a year can be nominated for the position as Leader of the Party.

“For administrative purposes, since I became the secretary general of the party, for my own guidance, I usually issue what we call nomination forms, so that people are free in this party to nominate… any person for any post, as long as the person is a financial card carrying member of the party for at least one year,” Cruickshank outlined.

Cruickshank noted that at the Extraordinary Convention, which will take place November 27, 2016, the delegates representing each constituency and every organ of the party will have a say in who becomes the new president of the NDP.

But this voting procedure may be contrary to the Constitution of the NDP, as according to a copy of that document obtained by SEARCHLIGHT, the president is elected not by the delegates, but only by the members of the Central Committee.

Cruickshank, however, correctly stated that the Leader of the Opposition can only be elected by the elected Members of Parliament, as outlined in the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“But the Leader of the Opposition can be a different person because the main criteria for the Leader of the Opposition is for the [elected members of Parliament] to inform the Governor General who they support or who they are behind,” Cruickshank explained.

He, however, pointed out that only rarely would the leader of the party and the Opposition Leader be different persons.

A release from the NDP issued yesterday said that on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the New Democratic Headquarters, Eustace will make a presentation with regard to the NDP and his stepping down as president of the party, as well as Leader of the Opposition.(CM)

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