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Winston Whyte passes away

Historic photo dating back to 1976 in the yard of Parliament on Church Street and in the front row from left to right were H.A. Blaize, Maurice Bishop (new Opposition Leader) and Winston Whyte

The man who cast the decisive vote in 1976 to make assassinated Prime Minister Maurice Bishop the official opposition Leader in Grenada has passed away.

Winston Whyte, who was associated with the United People’s Party (UPP) and later the Christian Democratic Labour Party (CDLP) died early this morning at the St George’s General Hospital.

After the 1976 poll, the People’s Alliance which was formed by Whyte’s UPP, the New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Bishop, and the Grenada National Party (GNP) of Herbert Blaize ended up with 6 of the 15 seats in Parliament.

The Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy won the other 9 seats to form the government in the first national poll after the island attained its independence from Britain on February 7, 1974.

According to Whyte, the NJM won three seats (Bishop in St George South-east) Bernard Coard (Town of St George) and Unison Whiteman (St George North-east) and he decided to cast his decisive vote in favour of Bishop to take over from Blaize as Opposition Leader.

Whyte told a local journalist years ago that Blaize was angry and upset and the relationship between the two became sour and strained after that.

Originally a member of Gairy’s GULP, Whyte resigned after being overlooked by the party for a candidate position and joined UPP and became its political leader.

Whyte was imprisoned by Bishop’s NJM in October 1979, six (6) months after the party staged the coup d’etat that toppled Gairy from power on March 13, 1979.

The St Patrick West Parliamentarian was accused by the Revolutionary Leaders of plotting a revolt against the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) and was detained at the Richmond Hill Prison until the US and Caribbean troops stormed the island to restore law and order after Bishop was killed in a palace coup on October 19, 1983 staged by a radical group within the NJM known as OREL in which Coard was the ideological leader.

Whyte was soon engaged in another battle with Blaize over the formation of the New National Party (NNP) – a coalition of four centrist groups that had the backing of the Americans in order to keep out Gairy from regaining power in the 1984 general election.

The original NNP members were Whyte’s CDLP, GNP of Blaize, the Grenada Democratic Movement (GDM) of Dr. Francis Alexis and Dr. Keith Mitchell and the National Democratic Party (NDP) of George Brizan.

The NNP was formed on Union Island at a meeting involving the party political leaders of Grenada, and several East Caribbean Prime Ministers such as the late Eugenia Charles of Dominica, John Compton of St Lucia and Sir James Mitchell of St Vincent & the Grenadines.

Blaize was given the task to lead the coalition group and within hours of their return home, Whyte pulled out of the arrangement accusing Blaize of not giving CDLP enough places on NNP and packing it with members of his GNP grouping.

In the 1984 poll, Whyte’s CDLP fielded several candidates but failed to make an impression as the electorate gave the NNP a massive 14-1 mandate to replace the Sir Paul Scoon created Interim Government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite that was running the country after the U.S-led military operation to bring an end to Grenada’s four-and-a-half years flirtation with Marxist rule.

Whyte’s political career took a downslide and he soon turned to business by attracting a number of foreign investors to the island such as Viktor Kozeny (The Pirate of Prague) to start work on the upgrade of the Grenada Yacht Club in the Lagoon and Zublin which came in to develop the Bruce Street Mall on the Esplanade.

In recent weeks, several close aides of Whyte reported that he was not in good health and that his health was on the decline.

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