Leader: Labour women have broken barriers

From left: Labour women take a bow—Newly elected Emma Hippolyte and Alvina Reynolds and MC Menissa Rambally.

They came into power on the wave of the “en rouge” chant and swept victory away from the UWP leaving their supporters depressed and in disbelief. To celebrate their 11 to 6 win at the last general election held on 28 November, SLP held its victory rally at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in Gros Islet on Sunday 4 December. Hundreds of supporters came out in celebration of the change they undoubtedly created by exercising their democratic right.
With guest speakers and entertainers, the massive crowd gathered at the promenade was definitely in for a treat. Menissa Rambally, the Castries South East SLP representative who lost to UWP’s Guy Joseph in the 2006 general election was the night’s MC and as with every SLP pre-election campaign rally, Jadia Jn Pierre was there to crank up the crowd as the entire SLP team was presented. Each member was given some time to address the  excited crowd who came out despite the dreadful weather. After all, this was the only celebratory rally they can enjoy after Dr Kenny Anthony did not grant St Lucians the traditionally kept holiday after elections.
As she introduced Harold Dalson, Menissa Rambally noted that the Soufriere/Fond St Jacques seat was a special victory for the Labour party amidst loud cheers and political slogans.
Emma Hippolyte described the final count of ballots for the Gros Islet district as “long and tedious.” News of her victory surfaced on election night as having a 15 margin victory over Lenard Montoute but that result was challenged by the UWP candidate who was vying for a third term in office forcing the returning officer and election clerks to recount all the ballots. Eventually, Hippolyte emerged victorious by a seven vote margin instead of the 15 she previously had. She thanked the young people who turned out to support her and even with her feeble voice she thanked the supporters of the UWP who turned out to support her and the Labour party. “I am very mindful that over 5200 people voted for me and also over 5200 of them voted for Spider,” she said, “my task is to unite Gros Islet, my task is to work with you.”
Stanley Felix who lost to Richard Frederick continued with what seemed to be a night of expressing gratitude towards the people of St Lucia. “We fell short of the glory,” Felix said, “But I still believe we were the victors in this fight.” Felix thanked the people of Castries Central and said that the fight has only just begun. “I am not going anywhere, I will stay and represent you. I will continue to work with you in the constituency,” he said.
The Castries South East SLP candidate, Timothy Mangal who lost by 126 votes came out with a strong voice; echoing thank yous to his loyal supporters. Historically, an MP who has been elected in the opposition has found it difficult to represent their constituency. Acquiring funds and undertaking projects to maintain the community has always been challenging and Mangal, who is aware of this described his victor, Guy Joseph as being wounded in Castries South East.
Newcomer and victorious Dr Desmond “The Mighty Pep” Long addressed an even more excited crowd who were all chanting “en rouge” as he came up to speak. Dr Long overthrew the reign of Dr Keith Mondesir who represented Canaries/Anse La Raye under the UWP administration. Long started off with an ice breaker: “Keith Rufus Raymond Mondesir was the first man in the history of mankind to see the river climb the mountain.” He informed the audience that he was not well but made every effort to be there to celebrate his victory with them. Long thanked his family for supporting him and enduring with him as he campaigned for the last year and a half. He also thanked the young men and women of Anse La Raye who went out on election day to bring the voters out. “The day will come when St Lucia will no longer say that Anse La Raye/Canaries is the poorest constituency in this country,” said Long.
Newly sworn-in minister, Philip J Pierre started his thank you address with sarcasm, “they came to dance on my grave,” he said, “but when the people are for you, no one can be against you.” Pierre who was the acting prime minister for a day while the PM was out of state, boasted that with the help of his loyal supporters from since 1992 when he first contested the seat, he won Castries east with an increased majority.
The final speaker, Dr Kenny Anthony credited God as the victor of the election and said the victory proved all wrong who had said that he does not believe or uplift God in his government.
Some members of the Christian community were not at all pleased when he removed prayer from the House of Parliament during his tenure in office and when his government proposed for abortion to be legal in certain circumstances. Anthony graciously thanked God for allowing him another opportunity to lead this country.
“It is to him that we must give this glory,” he said. He continued to express gratitude to all who trust in him and his party to lead St Lucia through the storms ahead.
“I am proud of this team that we have,” he said, “It’s an extraordinary team with extraordinary potential.”
One could not help but notice a difference in the tone and body language of a man who before elections was loud and aggressive but now seemed diplomatic. He asked the four women who fought against the UWP to stand as he asked the audience to look at the women as he explained that they are shaping a new history for St Lucia.
“I do not know whether they understand that they have broken a major barrier in this country,” said Anthony.
He referenced two of his previous colleagues namely, Menissa Rambally and Sarah Flood-Beaubrun (whom he fired from his cabinet in 2004 for calling Cabinet and legislative colleagues murderers and child killers in a debate on abortion) and said that
they will be continuing the trail blazing set by these two women that began in
1997. Emma Hippolyte, he said, has sent a powerful message to women, his party and St Lucia.
After taking time out to thank the people of his constituency, Anthony, who rarely speaks publicly about his other half, thanked his wife, Rosemarie Belle Antoine.
“She has had to endure much,” said Anthony, “She has been attacked but throughout it all she was my rock, she was my inspiration.”
Dr Anthony reminded the crowd gathered at Beausejour of his promise to bring back STEP (Short Term Employment Program) and explained that although Christmas is very close, he will move swiftly to use the machinery of his government to provide at least one week of STEP.
He explained his reason for leaving the country for Venezuela where he met all
the prime ministers of the Caribbean and all the leaders of Latin America and renewed the country’s links with them. He stated that it was an opportunity to establish ties for the future as St Lucia considers the weighty decisions ahead. Not disclosing any information,     Dr Anthony said that he has brought back new initiatives for his new Cabinet to rebuild this country and begin a new era in St Lucia.

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