CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC – Former Prime Minister, Stephenson King, was swept out of the leadership of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) after his former tourism minister, Allen Chastanet, scored a convincing victory in Sunday’s poll.
King, who led the UWP into defeat in the 2011 general elections, was defeated by a 264-99 margin with Chastanet’s “A” Team also securing a clean sweep of all the executive posts at stake.
Party officials said that the polls were pleased with the voting procedures and the 364 delegates representing the island’s 17 constituencies were allowed to cast their ballots in an orderly manner.
There had been rumours of planned disruptions by supporters opposed to Chastanet did not materialize.
Former foreign affairs minister, Rufus Bousquet, who sought the position of chairman, also suffered defeat at the polls.
In his acceptance speech, Chastanet, a hotelier, said that his first task would be to unite the party.
“The process of reconciliation begins immediately, and I am making a special appeal to every supporter to reach out and embrace one another, extend a handshake or exchange a smile, remembering we have one common purpose and one goal, to remove the St. Lucia Labour Party from the backs of the suffering people of this country.
“We would need each of you to be involved in the various aspects of the restructuring process, every skill set is necessary, every expertise counts.
“We would make a concerted effort to include the youth, the women, our constituency branches, our stalwarts, and current and past candidates and every political fodder in St. Lucia,” Chastanet said.
King, who initially refusing to shake his opponent’s hand, later addressed party supporters urging them to unite for the task ahead.
“I know what it is to be down and out but I also know what it is to keep fighting until the end, as the task ahead would require the energy, effort and drive of all UWP supporters,” King told the convention, recalling the death of his mother over the past few weeks.
King said he was looking forward to working with the national executive in the future.
In his address to the convention, feature speaker, Dr. Claudius Preville, a trade negotiations and policy research consultant, reminded the delegates that in order to regain power, the UWP would have to “become attractive to its support base, attract the growing number of apathetic voters, attract women in leadership roles” and exercise its wiles to attract SLP supporters.