New Party Launches in Grenada

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - November 28, 2012

Above: Glynis Roberts (second from left) last year (FP)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

A third party has officially launched in Grenada, ostensibly led by former Environment Minister Glynis Roberts, who resigned from the Prime Minister Tillman Thomas’ National Democratic Congress government in September.

Roberts, who is being described as the “convener” of the party, officially launched the party on Tuesday night.

“I came to the Parliament and then to the Government with a set of solid principles, and with an understanding that I cannot run for high office by taking a low road,” she said at a speech launching the party. “I want to say tonight that I have been true to that faith, true enough to walk away from spite and confusion, when it might have been easier to stay quiet and to just simply stay.”

Roberts is one of several cabinet ministers who have resigned since April, including former Tourism Minister Peter David and former Foreign Minister Karl Hood.

“It is that faith I am remaining true to tonight by being the convener of this event, which is the launch of a political party where the brand of politics that most Grenadians yearn for, can be practiced with no ifs or buts,” she said. “In other words, we will not open the old playbook where spite, petty politics, quasi-dictatorship, corruption, and laziness abound.”

Roberts was joined by “colleagues” Jerome Joseph and Feron Lowe, along with Siddiqui Sylvester, a former NDC official.

Criticizing Grenada’s two major parties, the NDC and the New National Party, she asked what they had done with their power for the last decade and a half, calling them “two political cartels whose real functions are to try to win elections and then spend five years in office ensuring that in their view, nobody else cheats them out of their chance — whatever that means.”

The question now, is whether a third party can stand a legitimate chance of winning an election. Another Caribbean country, the Bahamas, saw the rise of the Democratic National Alliance third party last year, but it fell flat in the May 2012 election, failing to win a seat.

But with the high-profile resignations from the NDC, it may be a different story in Grenada when elections take place in 2013.

“Our challenge is not just to engineer an election-winning strategy but a genuine governance strategy that puts people first; one that can transform ideas and plans into action, one that empowers the youth and engender respect for law and order,” she said. “One that turns good governance not into a mere slogan, but a developmental philosophy that will bring jobs and benefits to real people in real communities.”

Outlining the NUF’s priorities, she highlighted four major planks: building Grenada’s agricultural base; developing a partnership with Trinidad and Tobago to explore offshore oil and gas potential; revamping Grenada’s energy sector and reducing costs and training and developing the country’s youth in Information and Communication Technology.

“That platform we seek to fashion will also be built on the understanding that real growth will come when the productive sector expands and when private entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported,” she said. “We have to build a society where it will become easier for young people to start their own businesses through government-backed soft loans and grants.”

On that front, Roberts said she envisioned the country seeking international grant funds that would be placed in a pool to promote small business development.

She also said Grenada had to be more creative in the way it attracted foreign investments, by “encouraging rather than running down potential foreign investors.”

We need to engage investors in a very open and frank manner to ensure that both the investor and the country benefit from the investment.

“If we accept that foreign direct investment is critical to our economy, we must embark on a selective head hunting exercise to engage known investors in the specific sector we are seeking investment,” she said.

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