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United Workers Party (UWP) Political Leader Allen Chastanet has brushed aside suggestions that the decision to oust Stephenson King as opposition leader was “his decision”.
Chastanet, speaking at the party’s press briefing on Tuesday, was adamant that it was a step taken by the entire party, and was simply a matter of honouring the UWP’s constitution.
He also noted it was all in stride with efforts to modernise the party under the vision of founder and former prime minister, Sir John Compton.
“The decisions that we have had to make, as difficult as they are, have been made substantially easier by the process that we have recently been through in developing a vision, mission and values of the party,” the former tourism minister said.
Chastanet took over the leadership of the party after defeating King, a former prime minister, 264-99, at the UWP’s 37th National Convention in July 2013.
Since the elections, party factions loyal to Chastanet and King have not been seeing eye to eye.
Things came to a head recently when reports surfaced of a power struggle in the party after a letter from Chastanet to King was leaked to the public.
In the letter, Chastanet took offense with King’s decision to agree to attend a meeting with Prime Minister Kenny Anthony and other stakeholders to discuss the impact of the Christmas Eve trough, without consulting him.
Since the letter was leaked, various officials within the party have publicly aired their views on the matter, prompting political opponents and pundits to declare infighting and disunity in the UWP.
An emergency meeting with the party’s National Council Meeting was held last Sunday, January 19.
Following the meeting, Party Chairman Ezechiel Joseph told reporters that the party was in the process of reviewing its constitution to put to rest an outstanding issue with one of the party’s high-ranking positions.
He had said: “One (of the decisions taken) was the aspect of our elections officer and how we can move forward with the situation that we’re now faced with. Our (party’s) constitution is in conflict with the constitution of the land, so it’s something we have to review as a party. We are going through the process of reviewing our constitution which we hope will be accomplished before our next island council meeting scheduled for August.”
Another key decision taken on Sunday had to do with the leader of the opposition, whose roles the delegates have indicated need to be amended.
“The delegates felt that there’s a need to make some changes with regards to that situation. I want to inform the press that the leader of the opposition and the political leader have agreed to have a joint appearance on Tuesday morning with the press to discuss further collaboration,” the party chairman told the media on Sunday.
However, at today’s press briefing Chastanet was present but King was not.
At the briefing, Chastanet said the country needs an opposition leader who will “act as a cohesive voice in parliament to challenge, represent and guard the interest of the citizens of this country”.