No challenge to Gonsalves leadership of ruling party


Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is set to lead the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) into the next general election, constitutionally due in 2026 after indicating that there will be no changes in the political leadership of the ULP at its convention due to be held on Sunday.

Gonsalves, who turns 76 in August, told a radio programme here that no one has been nominated to run against him as the party’s political leader and, in an apparent reference to his health, added that “unless advised otherwise”, he will lead the party into the next general election.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” he said, when asked about his general health, adding “I wouldn’t tell you how much weight I have lost. It is a good number. There are other phases I have to deal with in terms of, and I feel good and I feel fit and I am working long hours”.

Gonsalves said he expects Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel would be elected as the party’s deputy political leader.

Daniel had been acting as the party’s de facto deputy leader since Sir Louis Straker retired from politics in 2020.

Gonsalves had previously said that the person who becomes deputy political leader of the ULP is likely to succeed him as prime minister, but that he was willing to continue as the parliamentary representative for the North Central Windward constituency, which he has been representing since 1994.

However, Daniel, 69, who was elected in November 2020 to a fifth consecutive five-year term by 62 votes, has said that he would not contest the next general elections, saying it is time for the ULP to look towards younger leadership.

The leadership transition race in the ULP, which has been in office for the past 21 years, had previously been viewed as a two-way race between the prime minister’s son, Finance Minister and MP for East St George, Camillo Gonsalves, 50, and the 41-year-old Minister of Agriculture Soboto Caesar, who is also the parliamentary representative for South Central Windward.

In a July 15 analysis, social commentator and former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jomo Thomas, said that the prime minister was “prepared to preside over the destruction of the ULP rather than allow democracy to run its course.

“Ralph Gonsalves would rather the country grind to a halt rather than allow for the emergence of anyone other than his son, Camillo, as ULP leader and prime minister,” said Thomas, a former ULP senator who lost in his bid to win South Leeward for the ULP in 2015.

But Prime Minister Gonsalves told radio listeners that the ULP had rejected his proposal for leadership transition and that he will lead the party into the next general elections, constitutionally due in March 2026 – five months shy of Gonsalves’ 80th birthday.

Gonsalves, one of the longest serving heads of government in the 15-member Caribbean Community, said he began in the party a conversation about leadership transition.

“It is an important point to make: there was no demand by the leadership of the party for a transition, there was no demand by the organs of the party for a transition, there was no demand by the rank and file for a transition, there was no demand by the electorate in St Vincent and the Grenadines for a transition,” Gonsalves said.

“I took it upon myself … I talk about it because I consider it an obligation of mine as a leader to talk about transition,” he said, adding he was elected as a leader of the party and reappointed as prime minister in December 2020.

The last general elections were held on November 5, 2020, with Gonsalves leading the party to a fifth consecutive term in office.

“And I went to the electorate telling the electorate I am serving the period of time you elect me for but I would, as a responsibility of a leader, to be looking towards a transition.”

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