ULP next leader to be known July 31 – PM
By the end of the convention of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) on Sunday, July 31, there will be a clear indication as to who will succeed the current leader, and this will be done without contestation or confusion.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who has been the political leader of the ULP for the last 24 years, told SEARCHLIGHT in an exclusive interview on Saturday that the only vacancy in the party is at the level of deputy political leader, and at the July 31 convention, it is very likely that only one candidate will be put forward to fill that position.
While a decision has not yet been made about who will fill that position last held by Sir Louis Straker, Gonsalves said the possibility exists that a new political leader may also be elected during the convention.
“Or we’ll just have a deputy leader and it is recognised that that deputy leader…would rise to leadership,” he said, adding that once the convention ends, there will be a clear indication of the party’s plan for succession.
Either way, the election of a new deputy leader and the possible election of a new leader in no way indicates that the Prime Minister will demit his post at the head of the current administration anytime soon.
“I was elected by the people of this country for a five-year term…but as always, one of my responsibilities is to make sure that there is a proper transition and to make sure that it’s done orderly and in the interest of the party and the country and I will take all those things into consideration in relation to the timing, and so too would the members of the party and the central executive,” said Gonsalves who succeeded Sir Vincent Beache as party leader in 1998.
Finance minister, Camillo Gonsalves and agriculture minister, Saboto Caesar have been projected as front runners for succession to the leadership of the party.
Approximately 340 people, including 20 delegates from each of the 15 constituencies, are eligible to vote for the new deputy leader, and possibly leader, come July 31.
But before that, work is taking place at the constituency level to ensure that there will be consensus on who will be elected to the post of deputy political leader at the convention.
“Our party is organised with constituency councils and we will have an idea as to the various constituency councils, the people there who would be providing support, how that support is going,” Gonsalves said.
The ULP political leader expressed that, “persons who are members of the party and who are the supporters of the party, expect of me to ensure the management of any transition to be done in a way which does not compromise our chances of winning the election in 2025 and beyond”.
He said he knows what happens in political parties where there is that type of contestation “I see it all the time in the region and I am not going to open the party, despite its achievements and all that it is doing currently, to wound itself to carry itself into opposition.”
The political leader however does not expect that confusion of any sort will brew on the matter, but rather that there will be discussions, after which delegates will come to a judgement. He said everything will be done with reasonableness and consideration of a number of factors involved in the process.