by Linda Straker
Nazim Burke, political leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described the 2018 election date as both ‘Liberation Day’ and a 2nd referendum day for thousands of voters who will go to the polls on 13 March to vote for a new government.
“We must see this announcement as the beginning of our march to freedom; we must rally every single person capable of voting against the New National Party to come out and vote on referendum day,” said Burke who learned of the election date while addressing thousands of supporters at a meeting on the Carenage.
“Liberation day is 13 March,” he told the jubilant crowd which started screaming and shouting ‘revolution time.’
Burke, who was at the time speaking about his party’s intention to approve ‘dangerous criminal’ legislation and establishing a special victims’ unit for victims of abuse, stopped his speech to focus on the election date.
“Interestingly, brothers and sisters when I last checked 13 March represented a revolution against corruption; 13 March brothers and sisters represented a revolution against oppression; 13 March represented a revolution against spitefulness and vindictiveness; 13 March represented a revolution against intimidation; 13 March represented a revolution against poor healthcare and lack of quality healthcare,” he said
Reminding the supporters that they need to get out the votes so that the National Democratic Congress can win the upcoming general election, Burke said, “We must understand that this matter is now in our hands… the choice is now in your hands. Let us now march forward to victory on 13 March,” he said.
On 13 March 1979, the democratically elected government of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy was removed from power by the Maurice Bishop-led military coup. Sir Eric was out of state at the time and all his cabinet members were detained and placed under house arrest. From 1979 to 1983 the island was governed by the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) led by Maurice Bishop, until that government had its own internal conflict which resulted in the October 1983 massacre.
In the massacre, Bishop, some of his cabinet colleagues and many other Grenadians lost their lives. The island then returned to democratic rule with its first post-revolution election in December 1984. It was won by the New National Party led by Herbert Blaize. The 2nd election was held on 13 March 1990 and after all the ballots were counted, there was no party with a clear majority.
However, Edzel Thomas who had campaigned as the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) candidate, crossed over to the NDC, and that is how that party which was led by Nicholas Brathwaite, was able to govern the affairs of the country.
In the present construct, both main political parties — the New National Party led by Dr Keith Mitchell and the National Democratic Congress by Nazim Burke — have supporters and decision makers who were intimately involved with the 13 March Revolution and its socialist-style People’s Revolutionary Government.