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OUR CARIBBEAN: A season for poll politics in Caricom


Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: A season for poll politics in Caricom

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While opposition parties in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana are currently focused on pressuring their respective governments to dismiss senior cabinet ministers, in Barbados speculation is intensifying over likely dates for a general election either before or shortly after Christmas.
The speculation is tending to weigh against the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) securing a second term, with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler being seen as facing tough challenges to retain their seats.
I find it difficult to see Stuart losing his parliamentary seat, given his convincing majority at the January 2008 elections. In contrast, Sinckler has much more work to do to improve on his comparatively slim victory.
Looking beyond Barbados, it is in Grenada that there appears to be the strong possibility of the incumbent National Democratic Party (NDC) of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas being a one-term government. Worse, the prime minister himself could lose the St Patrick East seat he won at the 2008 general election.
Political tension is mounting within the NDC as arrangements proceed for its annual convention amid reports of widening factionalism among the 11 parliamentarians and party executive.
Furthermore, some disenchanted MPs could move towards forming a new party to challenge both the NDC and the opposition New National Party (NNP) of former three-term Prime Minister Keith Mitchell.
At present, the difficult choice facing Prime Minister Thomas is whether to advise the Governor General to proclaim a new session of the now prorogued parliament or announce plans for new general elections. The 15-member parliament was prorogued earlier this month against the threat of a few NDC parliamentarians supporting a no-confidence motion that was on the Order Paper.
Both the NNP’s Mitchell in Grenada and the Barbados Labour Party’s Owen Arthur continue to project much optimism about returning to power whenever the “election bell” rings.
Meanwhile, leader of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) in Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, is intensifying his campaign for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to dismiss Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and threatening a national campaign for new general elections.
 The PNM leader is claiming that the Attorney General is as guilty as the already dismissed Minister of Justice Herbert Volney over the early proclamation of a controversial clause in the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
He, however, is aware that there is not a chance of the prime minister bowing to opposition pressures to sack her Attorney General or calling a snap general election while still virtually in mid-term, and with a 29-12 parliamentary majority.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean ­journalist.

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