By Linda Straker
ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, January 30, 2018 (CMC) – Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, on Sunday night, announced March 13 as the date for fresh general elections in Grenada, telling supporters that the last five years had seen tremendous socio-economic growth in the tri-nation country.
“My friends we are far from finished, we cannot turn back now, that’s why, brothers and sisters, we will continue to pursue all economic opportunities, “ Mitchell told supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) at the National Stadium on the outskirts of the capital.
He said that the prospect for “oil and gas exploration looks very exciting”, adding “we had a report two evenings ago, I say to you, Grenada is blessed, your country is blessed by the almighty God, so he is making all sorts of opportunities for you”.
Nomination Day will be on February 20 and Mitchell has indicated that he would like a repeat of the 2013 election results, when the NNP won all 15 seats, defeating the then-ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) headed by Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas.
The final day for registration of voters was Monday, January 29, and it is estimated that more than 75,000 people will be eligible to cast ballots in the election that will be held, here, for the second time on March 13.
On the first occasion in 1990, the NDC won seven seats, the Grenada United labour Party (GULP) four seats. The NNP won two seats, the same as the National Party (NP).
The NDC later formed the government when one of the GULP members, the late Edzel Thomas, gave support to the party.
The election this year is likely to be a straight fight between the NNP and the NDC.
Addressing the rally where the NNP presented its candidates for the elections, Mitchell said, prior to being sworn in as Prime Minister in February 2013, “assets were being sold to pay salaries, Grenada was defaulting on its debts and we were borrowing money, even from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other neighbouring islands where they have they own challenges too”.
“People were not just losing their home but also losing their minds,” he told the supporters, saying that the NDC, which is now headed by former finance minister, Nazim Burke, “not only victimised our people but pauperised our people”.
“But for the grace of God and the sacrifice of our people, brothers and sisters, 2018 looks far different than 2013. Five years later we face a new dawn,” he said, with the NNP introducing Peter David, a former senior NDC cabinet minister, who was expelled from the party a few years ago, as one of its candidates.
An optimistic Mitchell, one of the longest serving heads of government in the region, told supporters that because of the work done by his administration over the last five years “the rhythm of Grenadian life is a bouncing melody of optimism this time”.
“With proper fiscal management, the cooperation from our social partners, the stimulation of investor confidence, the sacrifices of our citizens and the overall promotion of national unity, this country has been able to experience positive economic growth, averaging over five percent for the last five years.
“Our national debt has been lowered significantly, from 108 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) to 69 percent and some people in the opposition simple cannot get it right,” he said.
Giving the supporters justifications as to why they need to return the NNP to office Mitchell said “The choice now is ours, do we keep moving forward with the New National Party or do we get sidetracked with uncertainty and chaos, do we uphold the principle of sound management or do we go back to the day of mismanagement and infighting.”