The United Workers Party Micoud north MP Gail Rigobert has been recommended to the Governor General by her fellow opposition MP’s as the replacement for Stephenson King as the parliamentary opposition leader here. This, after weeks of wrangling within the party that was played out in the media as to whether King should remain as the opposition leader. The recent disclosure was made Tuesday morning during a press conference convened by the UWP.
Before making this announcement, Ezekiel Joseph the UWP’s party chairman recalled first the meeting of party delegates last Sunday. “I told the media then that the conference had agreed to a number of options. One was for us to have a parliamentary caucus which took place last night and also to schedule a press conference today,” he stated. “It was agreed that both the political leader and the leader of the opposition would address the matter with regards to the leader of the opposition,” he went on. Unfortunately, he said, the opposition leader after agreeing with that decision did not keep his promise.
Sunday’s meeting according to Joseph voted 50-4 in favour of removing King as opposition leader. According to the Chairman he recommended that King be allowed time to resign and that his decision would be conveyed at Monday’s meeting of the six opposition parliamentarians. Joseph said however that he received a call from King Monday afternoon accusing him of saying to the media that he King had agreed to resign. The opposition leader later called in the media to refute the alleged claims, placing the party chairman in bad light. He later recanted on some of the charges against Ezekiel Joseph. “If he is honest enough he should extend an apology with regards to what transpired,” Joseph stated.
Mondays meeting the press was informed with respect to the parliamentarians did not see the presence of UWP MPs Richard Frederick or Arsene James. James however the party chairman said, communicated his support for the majority. “The decision of the majority of parliamentarians, (Gail Rigobert, Arsene James, Guy Joseph, Edmund Estephan) is that since the leader of opposition has made it publicly that he will not resign, it has been agreed that Gail Rigobert will be recommended as the name sent to the Governor General as leader of opposition,” Ezekiel Joseph disclosed. A letter has seen been signed and sent to the GG.
Speaking Tuesday, party leader Allen Chastanet started off by painting a background of the role of leader of opposition. “The leader of the opposition is to act as a cohesive voice and body in parliament to challenge, represent and guard the interest of the citizens of this country,” he said. He went on to present the current Government as one directed purely to benefit its supporters. Chasranet also took issue with the Grynberg affair and the fact that the citizenry was not informed of the legal cost implications of the matter. He then highlighted the achievements of Rigobert sighting her as one of the youngest opposition leaders in the region (when appointed). Added to the fact that she was a woman Chastanet said made her suitable, as she would give a voice to women and youth in parliament. In a short address Gail Rigobert stated; “It is with great humility and a tremendous sense of responsibility that I acknowledge the confidence that my fellow parliamentarians have expressed in me by recommending that I assume the position of leader of the opposition.” She went on; “I also understand that responsibility require that I work very closely with my colleagues and with the party to ensure that we can serve as an effective political surveillance on the actions of policies of the current Labour administration.”
The UWP inisist that it is simply upholding its consitution in this matter. No word when the Governor General will accede to the UWP’s request to have a new opposition leader installed.