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Former Member of Parliament (MP) for Micoud North, Jeannine Compton-Antoine, has lashed out at her critics, who have suggested that she will not be able to properly represent the people of that constituency, if she wins the seat this time as an independent, at the next general election.
Compton-Antoine reminded that every MP receives a financial sum from government to undertake works in their constituency. But regardless of that sum, the former MP told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) that an MP always works with the business community and non-governmental organizations to develop other projects for their constituency.
“So it is the responsibility of the parliamentary representative, whether they are independent or a member of a party, to know what the needs of the people are, and to lobby for the people,” she asserted.
Compton-Antoine recalled when she served as MP for Micoud North between 2007 and 2011, she was able to get funding for the constituency that were not from the consolidated funds, and all of those monies were accounted for in Parliament.
“An independent can do things in their constituency, the same way a person in the Opposition can continue to work for their constituents. This is a myth being perpetuated by the political parties because they don’t want people to realise how an independent can do things in the absence of being affiliated with a party,” she asserted.
The former MP said her father, the late Prime Minister, Sir John Compton, ran as an independent during his early years in politics, explaining that the word ‘independent’ was not a bad word then, but in today’s politics it is being deemed as something that is not too good.
She told SNO, “It is a fact that I’m not an independent. I am running on behalf of the people of the constituency and so I have the backing of the people of the constituency. I am independent of a party, but I am an independent for the people.”
Asked if she thinks a victory for her as an independent in Micoud North will set the tone for other independents to get involved in elective politics, Compton-Antoine said she hopes it will.
“You can be affiliated with a party if you want, or if you decide you want to run as an independent. Once you have the support of your constituents and you have the constituents at heart, then you should not be put into a box and forced to run with a political party, because that is what you believe is the only way you could make a change. Everyone in Saint Lucia has a role to play in our development,” she added.
Compton-Antoine also dismissed claims that her participation in the next election will split the votes for the Micoud North constituency, and could possibly lead to a Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) victory, noting that this did not happen at the last election she contested.
“The people need to look at past election results when they give these kind of statements. I ran the last election and there was nothing about splitting any votes. The fact of the matter is representation, and changing the type of representation we have in the country, and how to improve governance.”
She continued: “I am not there as a spoiler. I was invited by the people to run again for this election. It was a request by the people of the constituency. It’s not about trying to make any upset, it’s about doing what the people want. And the political parties should be listening to the people.”
Nevertheless, Compton-Antoine said she continues to meet with people from across the constituency to discuss their issues and to look at what has changed in the constituency in the last five years and what hasn’t, in order to put together a plan on how to improve things there.
The former MP will be holding a special meeting on Sunday (April 24) in Micoud at 2 p.m., where a ‘historic signing ceremony’ will take place. While she did not disclose details about the signing, she said it is something that has never happened in Saint Lucian politics.