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Timeline to B-Day

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Timeline to B-Day

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TOMORROW could determine the political fate of Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley.
Five of the nine members of her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) parliamentary group have been manoeuvring to return former Prime Minister Owen Arthur to the helm of the party, and have summoned her to a critical meeting tomorrow.
Mottley’s troubles reached the public domain last Sunday, with revelations that a plot had been uncovered that sought to undermine her efforts to wrest the BLP chairmanship from the control of the incumbent St Andrew MP George Payne at this monthend’s annual general conference.
The internal battles have split loyalties in the party down the middle.
The SUNDAY SUN looks back at the week’s unfolding drama.
• Sunday, October 10.  BLP St James North MP Rawle Eastmond says he has uncovered a plot to influence the vote for chairmanship of the BLP. He reveals that 56 delegates from his constituency were submitted to general secretary Cynthia Forde without any authorisation from him or his branch’s executive.
He reveals that the list originated outside St James North and omitted several long-standing members of the branch, including its president, secretary and treasurer.
Eastmond also formally calls on the BLP’s national council to investigate the circumstances surrounding the plot. A meeting is later set for October 14.
• Monday, October 11. Personal assistant to Mia Mottley, Henderson Bovell, emails a letter to hundreds of BLP members stating that opponents of Mottley may not be fit to hold public or any office at all. He says Mottley is on a mission to stamp out corruption at all levels.
He says that to vote for Mottley as chairman of the BLP is the first step towards changing the party and winning the next general election.
• St Lucy BLP candidate Peter Phillips and his branch president Pearson Springer both deny that there has been a recruitment drive in their branch designed to send delegates to the October 29 to 31 annual conference to vote against Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley’s bid to be BLP chairman. They also deny that branch funds are being used towards this end.
• The Prior Park, St James Summit. Six BLP parliamentarians, namely Ronald Toppin, Owen Arthur, Dale Marshall, William Duguid, Gline Clarke and George Payne meet at Payne’s home and discuss Mia Mottley’s leadership of the party.
Reports are that five of the group (excluding Duguid) are openly seeking to have Mottley replaced by Arthur at the helm of the party. A meeting with Mottley is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, at BLP’s Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters.
• A group of elders – Sir Henry Forde, Sir Louis Tull, Dame Billie Miller, Sir Fred Gollop, Sir Richard “Johnny” Cheltenham and Nigel Barrow – meet at an undisclosed location to discuss the impasse in the party and find a possible solution to the divide over leadership of the party.
• Tuesday, October 12. Drama unfolds at the BLP’s Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters. Ronald Toppin, Dale Marshall, William Duguid, Gline Clarke and George Payne meet as scheduled, but Owen Arthur is a no-show. He is reportedly sick, but is not found when reporters visit his home.
Mia Mottley also refuses to attend the meeting and remains at the Office of the Opposition Leader at the Parliament Buildings.
Her supporters converge on headquarters and vociferously show their support, while denouncing Arthur. The scene is somewhat similar in the Parliament Yard.
Clarke later announces at a media briefing that Mottley is still leader of the BLP “at this present time” and that she will get support “until further notice”. He notes there are still leadership issues to be discussed.
Payne dismisses the elders and their importance, stating the BLP’s constitution makes no mention of them.
“There is no group in the BLP that is known as the elders,” he says.
• BLP stalwart Lionel Craigg says that in 50 years he has never witnessed anything similar to what is now happening in the BLP. He questions why Owen Arthur is so anxious to be political leader now, after handing over the reins of leadership to Mia Mottley.
Wednesday, October 13. The group of five – Ronald Toppin, Gline Clarke, George Payne, Owen Arthur and Dale Marshall – issue a letter to Mia Mottley bearing their signatures and signed October 12 (the date of Arthur’s sickness) summoning her to a meeting on Monday, October 18. Payne says that even though the group can constitutionally remove her, they have given her more than 48 hours’ notice to meet and discuss the leadership issues.
He says the majority of the BLP’s elected members are opposed to Mottley continuing at the helm.
• Thursday, October 14. BLP chairman George Payne postpones the meeting of the party’s national council slated to investigate MP Rawle Eastmond’s complaint of fraudulent political activity being carried out in the name of his constituency branch.
• Minister of Health Donville Inniss is the first Government minister to add his voice to the week’s Mia Mottley/Owen Arthur saga. He says if Mottley was politically astute she would have seen Arthur coming.
He also reminds Barbadians of the “public fighting, debacles and treatment of the ministers and public officers” under Arthur’s rule, and says he would not like to see it revisited on Barbados.
• Friday, October 15. Outgoing BLP Christ Church West MP Dr William Duguid says he will support whoever wins the battle for leadership between Owen Arthur and Mia Mottley. He has been attending meetings with both, but not publicly committing to either.
• Saturday, October 16. A coalition of Barbados Labour Party candidates retain legal counsel to investigate a possible breach of the party’s constitution by George Payne. The group is seeking to have him expelled from the party.
The coalition also questions his position on the national council, especially with respect to being part of the probe into the plot uncovered by Rawle Eastmond in his St James North constituency branch. Payne dismisses it as sounding “like a joke”.
President of the BLP Women’s League, Pat Parris, denies allegations of vote-rigging to send 210 candidates to the annual conference. There were reports the candidates were being placed to vote for Payne. (WG)