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The leadership challenges facing two PMs

Rickey Singh

The leadership challenges facing two PMs

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Barbados and Grenada are internationally recognized as popular tourist resorts and committed to the primary objectives of the Caribbean Community.
 What may not be widely known, beyond their borders, is the common leadership problems they face – both at ruling party and governmental levels.
   Within six months of each other in 2008, the Democratic Labour  Party (DLP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Grenada were swept to power with decisive parliamentary majorities – the former with a 20-10 advantage, under David Thompson (now deceased), while the latter secured state power for the first time since 1995 with an 11-4
victory under Tillman Thomas.
   New elections are due in Barbados not later than the first quarter of 2013, with Freundel Stuart as Prime Minister and DLP leader, and in Grenada, not later than September next year.
   Amid growing speculation of likely snap polls, both Stuart and Thomas are faced with internal leadership problems that manifested themselves with cabinet colleagues openly revealing positions in conflict with those of the respective head of government, but with the Grenadian Prime Minister evidently in a worst case scenario.
   Thomas had made his entry in governance politics as the elected leader of the NDC after a gruelling bout in the Opposition. Stuart was endorsed, by majority vote, by the DLP’s parliamentary group to replace Thompson in preference to the charismatic Finance Minister Chris Sinckler.
   Subsequently ratified as such by the DLP’s executive committee, he was, more significantly, a relatively cool choice for continued leadership at the Dems’ annual convention last August.
   The next convention before a new general election is scheduled for August and it is doubtful that the Dems would risk taking their “dirty linen” to that crucial forum within months of a poll in the face of a reunited and seemingly reenergized Barbados Labour Party under the leadership of Owen Arthur, a three-time Prime Minister.
   In sharp contrast, Prime Minister Thomas is now facing a no confidence motion in parliament later this month, filed by Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell.
   While even some of Thomas’ known dissenting parliamentary colleagues could, as expected, deny the New National?Party (NNP) such a “victory” and avoid a snap poll, what seems quite threatening for the Prime Minister is the likelihood of a no confidence vote against his leadership at the NDC’s annual convention scheduled for July.
   Real and assumed differences apart, about the degree of the internal leadership problems/challenges Stuart and Thomas are facing, what is now very much in the public domain is that both the governing DLP and NDC have quite difficult challenges to contend with ahead of their respective annual party conventions prior to, a few months later, new general elections with the opposition parties very much on the offensive for the return to state power.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist. Email [email protected]