While admitting that the decision to expel ten members affected the outcome of the 19 February General Elections, Political Leader Tillman Thomas said that it was the best decision the delegates made at the 30 September 2012 convention of the National Democratic Congress.
“Look around now and you will see that history has proven us to be right. These people were not true NDCites. They were not working in the best interest of the Party. They had other agendas. They had their own agendas, and I supported and will continue to support the decision made by our delegates one year ago,” Thomas said in an interview on Monday, 30 September 2013.
The Tillman Thomas administration won the 8 July 2008 General Election by capturing 11 of the 15 seats in the Lower House of Parliament. However, by its first anniversary there were clear signs that all was not well within the political structure of the organisation when significant changes were made to its executive at its 2009 convention.
Joseph Gilbert, who served as a former Works minister before getting fired in 2011, said that at the NDC’s 2009 convention, he witnessed the “first expulsion with the manipulated ousting of long-standing party chairman, Collin La Barrie, and the then deputy political leader, George Prime.”
“These two committed comrades were unceremoniously discarded from the party’s top leadership within months after they helped steer the party to victory in general elections,” Gilbert said, who was one of the ten expelled at the Convention.
What many people failed to notice, added Gilbert, was the motive of Nazim Burke, who succeeded Prime as deputy leader, and Glen Noel, who became party chairman in place of La Barrie.
Along with Gilbert, the others expelled on 30 September 2012 were: Peter David, Arley Gill, Stanford Simon, Glynis Roberts, Chester Humphrey, Karl Hood, Siddiqui Sylvester, Michael Church and Kenrick Fullerton. Within weeks of the expulsion, a number of other long serving members of the NDC, including Jerome Joseph and Ferron Lowe also resigned from the party.
“We have no regrets. When we see what they are involved in now with this Keith Mitchell administration, it just proves to us that the decision was correct, even though it had implications for the outcome of the elections,” said Thomas.
“Yes, I will admit that in the end that decision, along with other internal matters, resulted in the party not winning a seat in the February elections, but I will stand by that decision. As to this day, I believe that it was the right thing to do,” Thomas added.
General Elections was held five months after the expulsion and the New National Party won all fifteen seats in the Lower House of Parliament. In the absence of an elected opposition leader, then Governor-General Sir Carlyle Glean appointed three former NDC Ministers — Nazim Burke, Franka Bernadine and Dr George Vincent, as opposition senators in the Upper House of Parliament. Dr Vincent was appointed as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee during the last Parliament session which concluded on 21August. The session of the Ninth Parliament is schedule to open on 4 October and he is expected to return to the post, despite not calling any meeting during the first session.
Thomas, who following the elections said that he may not contest another elections, is yet to give clear directive with regard to the role he will play in the future of the party which will most likely hold it its next convention in 2014.
The NDC, Thomas said, will be holding a General Council on 13 October at the Hermitage Government School, and one of the main outcomes will be a date to hold the next Convention.
by Linda Straker