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Arnhim Eustace makes final statement as leader of NDP

Arnhim Eustace makes final  statement as leader of NDP

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The outgoing President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace had been thinking about the best way to transition the party into new leadership for almost a year.

Eustace made this disclosure while giving a speech marking the end of his tenure as leader of the party on Tuesday night at the Democrat House.{{more}}

“Since December, I have been thinking about a way to transition to a new parliamentary leadership, without destabilizing this ongoing march for change for St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Eustace added that it was at a political retreat in July with the entire political leadership of the party that they began to look at ways to move forward.

“It was at that retreat that I first signalled my intention to step down. Timing, I explained, was my concern,” he indicated.

The former Leader of the Opposition said that he had in recent months held one-on-one discussions with candidates and other senior members of the party to discuss his vision for the party and the country.

“Of course, I had to take into consideration that the party was and is in the midst of a seminal legal battle over irregularities in the last general elections. And so, a year after those contentious elections, I determined — after consultations — that the party and the nation were properly prepared for this transition. I informed the candidates that I would be stepping down as Leader of the Opposition and president of the NDP,” he said.

Before taking up the position as Leader of the Opposition, Eustace spent 47 years as a public servant, having served both the government of this country and at the Caribbean Development Bank.

Eustace became involved in politics in 1998 when he was first elected Parliamentary Representative for East Kingstown. For five months from October 2000, he served as Prime Minister until the Unity Labour Party (ULP) won the March 2001 general elections. Since then, he served as Leader of the Opposition until last Monday, when the baton was passed to Dr Godwin Friday.

He noted that this transition from leadership was bittersweet because despite his best efforts, he was not availed the opportunity to chart a new course for the citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

“I must acknowledge that it saddens me that despite my best efforts, the efforts of the party in general and the overwhelming support of the citizens of this great land, I was not availed the opportunity to chart a new course for the development of our people as Prime Minister for any significant period of time, Eustace stated.

He said had he been given the opportunity as Prime Minister, many persons would be “reaping the rewards of principled, creative, fiscally prudent management of the country’s affairs, harnessing our potent human and agricultural resources.

“My disappointments are buoyed by my certainty that the institution known as the New Democratic Party is better than ever, stronger than ever and built to stand the test of time.”

Eustace said that when that day dawns when the NDP takes the reins of government they would create the optimum environment for Vincentians to realize their potential.

And, while his transition may be bitter sweet, he assured his supporters that he has no regrets about himself.

“But I do have regrets for the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who in two successive elections have been cheated of getting the government they voted for and the government they deserved,” he said firmly.

“I have regrets that these fine men and women of the leadership of the NDP, a cadre of men and women who make up the best leaders St Vincent and the Grenadines has to offer, have been cheated of the opportunity to give back to the country they love as mandated by the people.”

However, he noted that there is a new team being built in the NDP who are engaging fighters with the determination of youth.

“We are excited about the new people we are attracting, and about the eager combatants coming on board. Our party must embrace them all as we get ready for a new period of protracted struggle,” he said.

Eustace added that he is expecting to see many new faces when the new executive is elected at the next year’s convention.

“Part of the NDP’s mandate in the coming period is to broaden and deepen a new coalition for change. We must engage those old foes who are now united with us, in the mission to get rid of this government. We may come from different places, but our common struggle is to ensure that good and responsible governance is returned to this land.”

Eustace expressed heartfelt thanks to his family, colleagues and supporters who have been by his side during his tenure as leader the NDP. (CM)

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