Hardly a week after asking Governor Gen. Sir Carlyle Glean to dissolve Parliament, Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has announced general elections in the “Spice Isle” for Feb. 19.
Thomas made the announcement at a rally on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 13, of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“The time is right to seek a new mandate from the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique,” said Thomas, who is also NDC party leader.
“With God’s grace and guidance, we shall be victorious,” he added.
With the dissolution of Parliament last week, voters in Grenada were expected to go to the polls within 90 days.
General elections in Grenada were constitutionally due by October this year.
“I wish to advise that today I advised his excellency the governor general to dissolve the Parliament of Grenada,” said Thomas in a brief radio and television address on Jan. 9.
“This act paves the way for the setting of an election date within the next 90 days”,” he added. “All such persons who are yet to register are urged to do so now.
“Given the need to ensure that all Grenadians who are 18 years, and over and are registered to vote, are given a fair chance to exercise their hard earned franchise, and against the background of the introduction of a new voter registration system, my government’s focus was on ensuring that the new system was properly put in place,” the prime minister added.
“It should be noted that if an election was called before the new voter registration was put in place, the old system has to be used. This system, as many of you know, needed to be urgently improved, because, among other things, the equipment was obsolete and the list padded,” he continued.
Thomas said the “isolated calls” for an early election before the completion of the new system, was “irresponsible, self serving and not in the best interest of all Grenadians.
“Every Grenadian needs to be given an opportunity to participate in a free and fair process of choosing a government,” he said.
“I now wish to convey that, in my view, much progress has been made with our electoral preparation. Many Grenadians have responded to the call to be registered. This has contributed significantly to our state of readiness,” he added.
Thomas said that on the naming of an election date, the Governor General’s responsibility is to “promptly issue the relevant writ.
“When this is done, voter registration ceases immediately,” he said.
The Grenadian leader said 2013, despite the lingering challenges, will “usher in some exciting possibilities.
“We will see the implementation of many programs and projects that we have been working on over the past four years,” he said.
“These programs and projects constitute key elements of the foundation that we have laid for the growth and development of our beloved country,” he added.
On the dissolution of Parliament, the NDC, which won 11 of 15 seats in the 2008 general elections, held just six, with four by the main opposition New National Party of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Five other parliamentarians, who won their seats on the NDC ticket, had either fallen out or were fired by Thomas and were sitting in the House of Representatives as backbenchers.