Speaking ahead of nomination day, Chief Elections Officer Carson Raggie, told the STAR that he is hoping that there are no hiccups come Thursday 17th November, 2011. Mr Raggie explained that nomination for candidates must be done in the candidate’s respective Electoral District at the office of the Returning Officer. Candidates were required to bring along their nomination form signed by six or more electors qualified to vote in the same Electoral District as that of the candidate. They were also required to pay an exact deposit of EC$250.
All over the island reporters were stationed at the nomination venues but it was clear that there was a heightened interest in the Castries Central area. Could it have had something to do with the controversial and ever flamboyant MP for the Castries Central area Richard Frederick? The MP had recently resigned as Housing Minister following the revocation of his US diplomatic and travel visas.
This reporter arrived at the Nomination Office at the CSA Centre at approximately 8:44am to only find present, the Returning Officer and assistants and one police officer. The Returning Officer, Mr Cuthbert St Juste told the STAR that he has no idea how many candidates will be registering. “It is hard to put an estimate at this time, we will have to wait and see,” he said. When asked about the process of registration Mr St Juste explained: “We will verify immediately upon registration whether the six electors are qualified or not and if they are not qualified, then the candidate will have to find a quick replacement.”
At approximately 9:15am, the first candidate for Castries Central arrived. Although Mrs Felicia Dujon Browne of the Lucian People’s Movement came in alone, she was all in smiles and walked in quite confidently and approached the Returning Officer. All six of her electors were verified. Mrs Browne paid her deposit and made her way out to speak with the STAR.
“I believe as a young person when you get into something that has been predominantly run by older persons, predominantly men, sometimes it could be a little hesitant.” Mrs Browne said as she breathed a sigh of relief. In her interview, Mrs Browne maintained a perfect posture and spoke very confidently which obviously was observed almost immediately when she arrived.
“Thus far it has been encouraging,” she said, “I have a lot of persons within my party, my family, the community and just walking around, people just encourage me and it motivates me and inspires me as a young woman coming new into this political landscape of St Lucia.” Mrs Browne, responding to why she wants to represent Castries Central said that she believes that it is time for change, time for the young ladies to be represented and time for Castries Central to be developed in terms of more educational facilities. When the STAR asked Mrs Browne whether she was satisfied with the work of the current representative, Richard Frederick, she said: “I wouldn’t want to judge what he has done. I think anything you do for the community is positive and you should be uplifted for that.”
As we were in the process of ending the interview, at about 9:48am, the sound of drums and people chanting “nou un rouge” (we all are in red) drew everyone’s attention towards the origin. A crowd of supporters dressed in red surrounded the SLP endorsed candidate, Stanley Felix. As they marched closer to the CSA Centre, the noise grew louder and more people came looking in. There were an estimated number of 60 persons rooting for Mr Felix including his mother.
“I feel completely elated and it is a very auspicious moment for me and also the people of Castries Central,” Mr Felix said in an interview with the STAR after successfully meeting the requirements for registration.
Mr Felix noted that this was his defining moment, “coming a long way and getting to this point was not easy,” he said.
In recent UWP rallies, his main rival, Richard Frederick has challenged him on several issues including the revocation of his “candidate-colleague” mother’s visa and when asked how will he respond in the next several days leading up to the general election, Mr Felix said that he will not “debase” himself or lower the standard of the Labour Party to respond to stupidity.
“I am very satisfied with the way in which my campaign is being run,” he said. Mr Felix, who was wearing dark shaded glasses throughout the entire process, spoke confidently as he promised to bring back the Castries Central seat to his party.
“I represent a party of substance, you see, empty vessels make the most noise. When I speak, I speak with things that are of substance,” Mr Felix said when questioned about the comments made by Richard Frederick. Ironically, his supporters began making even more noise after making this statement.
Mr Felix said that he will review the tapes of the speeches given by Frederick and if he finds anything defaming his character, he will know exactly what to do. Miss Julia Felix, Stanley Felix’s mother, who was properly clad but not in red, stood
at her son’s side throughout the entire process including our interview with the SLP endorsed candidate.
“There are no words to express how I feel about my son,” she said, “I am extremely proud.” of him, any other mother would be.” She said that her son had worked very hard to be where he is today and that it shows with the amount of support from his constituency.
Meanwhile, Miss Melanie Fraites of the Lucian Greens (Cow) walked in with her son. Her walk and choice of wear alone would imply her conservative personality.
After being sent back by the Returning Officer to replace an Elector, Miss Fraites was eventually registered. Unlike Mrs Browne, this woman appeared to be unsure despite her reason for contesting the seat, “I’m doing it because it has to be done,” she said, “no one else can do it, it’s about the environment, it’s about civil rights.”
Admitting that she was just experimenting with the election process, Miss Friates said that she was very pleased and excited to just be a part of history.
“I think it will be a really interesting social experiment,” she chuckled.
Speaking with the STAR, Dr Vaughan Lewis, who came out in support of Mr Stanley Felix said that he believes Mr Felix can bring this seat home for the Labour Party. “I think we have a very good chance,” he said. When asked by a reporter his opinion on the outcome of November 28th Elections, Dr Lewis replied, “I cannot
say who will win the general elections, that is something that is personal but I think the Labour Party will pick up momentum heading into elections.”
The supporters of Stanley Felix were still in the yard awaiting his departure when someone indicated that Richard Frederick was on his way. The police officer present seemed uneasy about a clash between the supporters of Richard Frederick and Stanley Felix, and word went out quickly to
the camp of the UWP candidate, delaying his arrival until the SLP candidate departed with his supporters.
At about 11:00am, a motorcade being led by bikers holding yellow flags arrived at the CSA Centre followed by Richard Frederick and scores of yellow supporters. His arrival, unlike that of the other candidates generated ecstatic response from the students and teachers of the Carmen Rene Memorial School just opposite to the CSA Centre. The mood and ambiance was strikingly different from earlier that morning. It was the type of celebration seen after a candidate has won his seat on Election Day.
Leading the UWP candidate inside for registration was Irvin John along with the remaining five electors. “We will slaughter the cow for the celebration,” Frederick sarcastically remarked after being told that there were three registered candidates including that of the Lucian Greens Party (Cow). After successfully registering, Frederick left the office and
made his way downstairs to speak with the media who were anxiously waiting to hear what he had to say.
“I have now registered officially as a candidate for the United Workers Party in the upcoming General Election on November 28th,” Frederick said. He noted that although the
people of Castries Central did not know what he had to offer when he first announced his candidacy back in March 2006, he now believes that they have seen him work and represented them in his full capacity as a Minister and their MP.
“And I know once again, the people of Castries Central will stand by me in continuing the developmental trend that we have started in Castries,” Frederick said.
As he spoke to the media, Frederick explained that he has not been in politics for 10 years to tell the people of Castries Central that he is sorry for the neglect, “because that is what Kenny Anthony told the people of Castries Central.
“I believe I’ve worked for them and I deserve another term given the pattern of development that I’ve taken Castries to,” said Frederick. Speaking to the supporters outside Frederick said, “We have minds of our own, we remember the ills that we have gone through, we remember the neglect and there is no way we are going back to those worse days. They say better days are coming, in deed better days are coming because we have started and we will continue on a better trend.”