ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is keeping Grenadians guessing about his political future, including whether he’ll contest another general election.
Thomas lost his seat, and his National Democratic Congress (NDC), which formed the government in July 2008, was routed from office in a 15 – 0 general election defeat in February by the New National Party led by Dr Keith Mitchell.
Reports were circulating here last week that Thomas had stepped down as NDC leader or was planning to do so. He now has denied those reports.
He said he told an interviewer that “I will not be contesting another general election, and people take it to mean that I will not be contesting the party leadership. I think people have misunderstood”.
Shortly after the results of the February 19 polls, Thomas said he was prepared to step down as NDC head and work with any chosen new leader of the party.
“The leadership is not something that I want to hold on to,” he said in an interview with the Trinidad Guardian. “Once somebody comes forward, I am prepared to let that person take over the responsibility of leadership of the party.”
According to Thomas, he now awaits the NDC’s annual convention, when election to the party’s executive will be held.
“I will remain as political leader of the party until we have the convention in which all executive positions will be contested. If the people think I need to be on and lead the executive, I will comply to their wishes,” Thomas said.
“It’s at that convention the delegates will have the opportunity to make any changes, and people will have to respect the wishes of the delegates, whether or not they decide to make me continue or change the leadership.”
One Grenada newspaper, Caribupdate Weekly, said the convention is “tentatively scheduled” for September.
“Some people in the party have been promoting the idea of him (Thomas) staying on until 2015 after which he will ‘graciously’ step down,” the paper said. “It is widely believed that former finance minister Nazim Burke is eyeing the leadership of the NDC following the party’s heavy defeat in the February 19 poll.”
Thomas, 68, said he has no immediate plans to contest another general election. However, he has not altogether ruled out that the possibility of running at the next national elections that are constitutionally due by 2018.
“I may not contest a general election again, but that in itself is not cast in concrete and circumstances can change,” he said.