PM counting on power of love!

From left: UWP’s Henricks Renee, Rufus Bousquet, Stephenson King and his wife Rosella. (Photo by Bill Mortley)

On Monday St Lucia’s National Printing Corporation was busy churning out an Extra Ordinary issue of the Saint Lucia Gazette to officially announce what the nation had learned on Sunday evening. The Gazette issued Monday afternoon featured an election proclamation declaring the dissolution of parliament on 7th November 2011 by Dame Calliopa Pearlette Louisy, Governor General of Saint Lucia.
The publication further stated that section 56 of the Constitution of Saint Lucia provides that a General Election of members of the House of Assembly shall be held at such time within three months after any dissolution of Parliament as the Governor-General may appoint.
Considering parliament was dissolved on Monday, stated the official document, the Governor General named 17th November 2011 as the day for nomination of candidates “and the 28th day of November, 2011, for the holding of a poll for the general election of members of the House of Assembly.”
“God Save The Queen,” stated the Gazette.
The news that elections would be held on Monday 28 November had spread as quickly as any other local news spreads in these days of BlackBerrys and Facebook updates. After all, like many have said the country has been in election mode since the last election five years ago. No sooner had the prime minister announced the date from the UWP platform had people begun to post messages of how ready they were to vote or how much they were not. But the announcement of the date was not without the usual theatrics that our political leaders are known for. Remember Kenny Anthony’s bell?
Prime Minister King stood in front of thousands of supporters on William Peter Boulevard—the crowd might well be called one of the largest ever gathered by the UWP—and began to speak of the record of his government.
The PM spoke of the many challenges his government had faced, including strikes by public servants for higher salaries, the economic crisis, a drought and Hurricane Tomas.
“The fact of the matter is that despite all of the challenges, despite all the adversity, despite all the criticisms, despite all the attacks on minister after minister after minister, despite all the attacks on your prime minister, this government performed better than many other countries in the eastern Caribbean and Caricom. That is why when I speak of the performance of this government I speak about the performance based on our original plan to redevelop this country. And I say to you, imagine St Lucia under a United Workers Party government without the challenges we were faced with in the last four years. Can you imagine the advancements that we would have made? But we were forced to adjust our plan and adapt a strategy for development. That is why St Lucia last year amidst all of the challenges was able to record a growth rate of 4.4percent.”
The PM went on: “Yet still we saw in this time, in the worst of times in modern history that St Lucia has performed better than the St Lucia Labour Party at the time they served in the best of times.”
In his build up to announcing the date the PM said that the UWP government was presenting their report card to the nation and asking the electorate whether they qualify for another term in office.
Said King: “That report card is about the power of we the people of this country to understand the challenges that we have before us . . .Tonight is a time to determine whether you are moving forward with a government that has performed or whether you are prepared to change the government and to look back on the past and give an opportunity to those who have failed you before.”
The UWP leader, who is contesting the election for the first time as the leader of the party, reminded the country of reasons he said they had voted the St Lucia Labour Party of office in 2006.
King spoke of the assistance the government gets from the Taiwanese government and the community projects funded by the embassy.
“This election is about you,” he commandingly told the crowd, that was surprisingly attentive. “It is about your children . . . Tonight I say to you the time has come once again for you to make a choice between the power of love and the love of power . . .”
The PM continued with the theme of “love” and the “power of we.”
“And so I confirm tonight . . . ” he began as the crowd went wild. “My people we have been on the campaign trail for a long time. Meeting after meeting you have come out in large numbers to give the         United Workers Party the support . . . So I ask you the question, are you ready for elections now? On every occasion when I asked you are you ready I have also thought afterward, are they serious when they say they are ready? At the same time it is not for me to keep you in suspense with the enthusiasm that you have, with the dynamism that you have demonstrated, with the power of love  that you have displayed tonight for me, to hold you back any longer in this journey.
“My friends I cannot hold you back any longer on this journey. Because of the love that I have got for you, because of that genuine love that I have got for you, on the 14th of February this year I decided that the general elections, that the date should be set. So I decided on a date as early as February 14th this year that I will call the election on that particular day,” he teased.
“As I moved closer to the date I realized you need time. I gave you time. I asked you the questions and you answered me time and time again. But as we moved closer I realized that the date that I had set for myself was not possible for a number of reasons and therefore I said probably since my birthday is in November I should probably consider a date in November.”
(For those who don’t know the PM’s birthday is this coming Sunday).
“ . . . But based on my own calculations and in accordance with the Constitution that November gift for my birthday may not be possible. However, this evening while you were preparing yourself and having a good time with your motorcades and all of the speeches of my dynamic members of the party I took a short journey to see the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy at 6:30 this evening . . . I said to her, ‘Your Excellency, the time has come when I can no longer control my people. My people are ready to go to the promised land and I must take them to the promised land. And therefore I have asked the Governor General to dissolve the Parliament of St Lucia as of the 7th of November (tomorrow) 2011.”
The PM added that Nomination Day would be November 17.
He said: “And so in accordance with the Constitution the day that we will make that important decision of love, about keeping the flames of progress burning in our beloved St Lucia, that special day will be before the beginning of December 2011. My people, many people have predicted dates. We have been a very transparent government. I have said to you time and time again that every day as we move into the election campaign it will be 21 days before the election is called . . .
“Therefore election day 2011 will be on Monday the 28th of November 2011!” the PM shouted into the microphone as the Boulevard thousands went wild and the deejay began to play a soca song. The evening continued with more fanfare but many who had stayed awake to see the televised announcement may have tuned out.
So there we have it St Lucia. In 20 days St Lucians will decide whether they will re-elect the United Workers Party or select a new party to take its place. Considering the date has now been set Saint Lucians should be getting a clearer picture of the candidates they have to choose from. As it stands the main campaigning parties appear to be the United Workers Party, the St Lucia Labour Party and the National Development Movement. Not much has been seen or heard of the Lucian Peoples Movement headed by a New York based Therold Prudent.
On Nomination Day the country will find out just how serious are the LPM, NDM and the several Independents that have stated they will contest.

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