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Unrest in NNP

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell moved very quickly to accept the post of Opposition Leader from Dame Cecile La Grenade in the face of plots to force him out of the NNP leadership position

Kennedy Budhlall and others are leading a revolt to unseat Dr. Keith Mitchell

In the face of calls within his own party for him to step aside, defeated Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has made a plea for unity within the New National Party (NNP) which lost the June 23rd general election to a regenerated National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by 44-year old Attorney-At-Law, Dickon Mitchell.

Addressing a ceremony Monday, in which he took the oath of office from Governor-General; Dame Cecile La Grenade to become the Opposition Leader in the newlook Parliament, Dr. Mitchell told NNP supporters who witnessed the occasion, that he was accepting the post only for “the immediate period.”

“I do not intend to hold this position beyond the party’s next convention,” he said, adding that, “The process of the next convention should be orderly and timely and no one will push the party to do what he or she wants, let it be very clear.

It is not about ourselves individually. We all should see our priority as defending, supporting and strengthening our party. We shall stay vigilant and sharp because there are tens of thousands of people who are counting on us. It is not about me and you – it is about the people that we have served who have got us where we are today,” he said.

This is seen as a stern warning from the defeated Prime Minister to Pro-Peter David allies like; former revolutionary soldier of the 1979-83 era, Kennedy Budhlall, who has been agitating in rural Grenada for him to no longer stay as the leader of the party, as well as supporters in New York.

David who attended the ceremony was stony faced and did not smile throughout the event.

Moments later, he was seen engaged in a rather cold hand shake with Dr. Mitchell as he exited the Annex of the Trade Centre and did not stay to witness the brief press conference hosted by Dr. Mitchell with members of the local press.

THE NEW TODAY understands that key elements within the party are pushing for the elected Member of Parliament for the town of St. George, former congress member and NNP Agriculture Minister, Peter David, to be given the opportunity to become the new leader of the party.

There are reports that since the NNP loss at the polls, an executive meeting was called and a proposal was put forward for the defeated Prime Minister to exit by September and for a new leader to take over from him.

A party insider said that Dr. Mitchell did not offer opposition to the proposal but within days was courting party stalwarts like; former Attorney General, Dr. Lawrence Joseph, who is known to be among his strongest defenders within the party.

Dr. Mitchell told party members and supporters at his swearing-in ceremony that he expected all members on the opposition side in Parliament to remain united and strong.

The Ex-Prime Minister warned his elected Parliamentarians to be on guard as attempts will be made to spread division within the ranks of NNP and if they were vulnerable and give the other side the opportunity to spread division then “we don’t blame them, blame ourselves.”

“Let us move forward as one united team to save this country. We have to remain united to the cause of national development,” he said.

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Dr. Mitchell announced that he intends to stay on in Parliament for the duration of the next five (5) years to represent his St. George North-West constituency that he first won in the 1984 election.

“I will remain committed to represent the people of St. George North-West who have elected me for the last 38 years with five (5) more years to go,” he said.

The veteran leader thanked the residents in his constituency for their support over the years especially in the darkest period of his life.

“I want you to know that I ain’t going nowhere,” he remarked.

Dr. Mitchell labeled himself as the ‘Father of the House’ and pointed out that he sees his role in the new Parliament as providing mentorship and guidance to all Parliamentarians.

“I embrace my role in this new phase – my role in this position in the immediate period is two fold – first and foremost, it is to articulate the views and to promote the aspirations of our people especially the almost 30,000 people that voted for The New National Party and for the entire nation. I see my role, and that of my other five colleagues, as crucial in upholding the tenets of our democracy and promoting good governance at this crucial juncture in our history.”

Dr. Mitchell gave assurances that the NNP team in the Lower House of Parliament will give support “to any programme, policies and laws that come before the Chamber that will seek to defend and empower the people of this beautiful country of ours.”

However, he took issue, with what he said, was the intention as announced by new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, that he intended to look for a new strategic partner for the sale of Grenlec, which the previous NNP administration had forced to spend about EC$200 million to repurchase from U.S company; WRB Enterprises.

The NNP leader noted that this was never in the manifesto of Congress nor articulated on the political platform during the campaign in the just-ended general election, as he referred to the utility company as a national security asset.

Dr. Mitchell put the new administration on notice that the NNP will not tolerate, what he called, the marginalisation of the Office of the Commissioner of Police, and attempts by NDC party hacks to give instructions “to the top officers of the police force for their own intentions”.

He also spoke out against, what he said was, “people walking in the Cabinet office of the country as party boys” and attempting to give instructions.

“This is not the norm of this country – we will not tolerate it,” he added.

The defeated Prime Minister acknowledged that Grenada is now entering a transitional stage in its politics with new and younger leaders emerging.

He admitted that he did not envisage that as the chapter closes on his political life he would end up on the opposition side in the Lower House of Parliament.

The NNP has not made any announcement about the three persons who will represent its interest in the Senate.

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