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March 24, 2005


The cauldron is boiling; the dissolution of parliament will signal the count down to the next general elections here. But it is all a matter of speculation as to the timing of that eventuality. Until then, the political barometer is going up with every passing moment.{{more}}

The temperature hit a new level this week with the staging of two Parliaments here. While the ruling Unity Labour Party kept the House of Assembly going last Tuesday, the opposition New Democratic Party held a mock sitting at their party headquarters on Murray’s Road.

Arnhim Eustace, the Leader of the Opposition and the NDP’s parliamentarian from mainland, in a letter to Elections Supervisor Rodney Adams had expressed concern over supposed manipulation of the electoral process by members of Cabinet.

Sir Vincent Beache, the Minister of National Security, was quick to dismiss and deny Eustace’s allegations. So too did the Elections Supervisor Adams.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves also took serious issue with the opposition for their position. And the affair was the centre of major discussion during the past week.

At Tuesday’s sitting, opposition matters were slated to take priority, and two of the 15 questions slated for oral answers had to do with elections.

Eustace had intended to ask “Why were evaluators and super-visors for the current enumeration exercise for the general elections chosen by the political directorate and not the Supervisor of Elections as has been the practice?”

Even in the absence of the Opposition question, Sir Vincent was critical and rather dismissive of Eustace’s political maturity. The National Security Minister chided Eustace for lacking “political sense.”

Sir Vincent, currently the longest serving parliamentarian, marked 30 years last year since his first election to parliament.

During the sitting Tuesday, Sir Vincent traced the entire political process, and noted that concerns about the size of the electoral list were being raised since 1997. He said that over 90,000 names have appeared on the list, though figures from the last population census showed this country’s numbering 107,000!

Sir Vincent described the opposition leader as not being sure what he was all about. The Parliamentary Representative for South Windward, and one of a few politicians to have changed constituencies and be successful described Eustace’s action as “panicking”.

As far as Sir Vincent was concerned, the exercise being undertaken by the Supervisor of Elections is to clean up the voters’ list. The National Security Minister blamed the NDP for allowing the list to be out of proportion.

He mentioned: “They don’t want the list to be cleaned,” because persons with two and three identification cards would be exposed.