Rumours of Stephenson’s King defection came to an end on Thursday’s ( July 8th 2021) Zafe Nous’s creole morning TV show on MBC. The TV show’s surprise guest was Ubaldus Raymond, a former minister of finance in the Allen Chastanet’s government, who revealed that Stephenson King, the current Minister of Infrastructure, had defected and would not be running the next election as a UWP candidate but as an independent candidate.
Raymond described King as a man of integrity who had come to the end of his tether following a prolonged period of disrespect and undermining of his ministerial portfolio by certain colleagues within the government, the Prime Minister included. He went on to detail the many instances of bad governance within the Allen Chastanet’s administration and the prime minister’s tacit endorsement of acts of corruption. Guy Joseph, the Minister of Economic Affairs, now mired in several allegations of corruption, including the infamous Pajoah Letter, an unauthorized letter signed by the Minister committing the government to borrow US$62 million dollars for already funded government projects was identified as a frequent offender of good governance practices.
Raymond, the chief architect of the current government’s last manifesto, had undergone a major conversion since his absence from office 3 years ago, following his resignation after a sex scandal. An initial supporter of Allen Chastanet, Raymond said that Chastanet, though “a good man”, was not the right person to run the country because he was very out of touch with ordinary people and guilty of ignoring their needs.
Meanwhile, UWP supporters are fuming at the latest revelations accusing both King and Raymond as traitors. It will be an uphill task for the incumbent to overcome the massive fallout from this latest defection. King, the most seasoned and longest serving member of parliament in the government, is sure to leave the UWP election machinery enervated by his departure.
In 2016, King energized the UWP into victory but in 2021 he is likely to enervated them into defeat. Pundits are now predicting whether the Labour Party will run a candidate in the Castries North seat or provide King with a free ride to victory by not contesting the seat. It will be interesting what happens next with the UWP now in search of a new candidate. Among the prospects according to sources close to SLNO are Guy Mayers and Minerva Ward.