Leader of the United Workers’ Party (UWP) Allen Chastanet has debunked claims that his party is “dysfunctional” and “slowly falling apart.”
Chastanet, who is being accused of causing a split between party members, made this comment on Hot Button Issue during a live call-in programme on Wednesday evening.
The UWP leader was slammed by members of the public, who had less than complimentary comments about him, questioning his authenticity and his knowledge on economics and governance.
Despite this, Chastanet maintained his position that his comment on the country’s fiscal deficit and the economic situation is nothing but the truth. He said that Saint Lucia is facing an economic crisis and that the Kenny Anthony Administration is doing more damage than repairs. Meanwhile, the political leader said the fall out by members of the UWP was not his doing, but said that their actions originated from the party taking a firm stance on restructuring and cleaning up house issues.
“We felt the party had not changed since 1996. A lot of core stalwart left and it never really restructured itself despite it adopted a new constitution. We needed to restructure and we presented our self to the delegates and asked them to elect a group,” Chastanet said on the programme. A few members who he described as “light-minded people he added were not cooperative. Chastanet said the next convention will determine who will be the political leader, to lead the party in the next elections expected in 2016.
Asked whether he plans on pursing the lead position for the next elections, Chastanet said, “I have not been pushing myself as the political leader for the next elections.”
He said the constituents will elect the leader. Besides that the UWP leader believes that his party has delivered to the people and said the party is now in a better position that they were a few years back, especially as it relates to addressing the disunity among members. The UWP is now aspiring to build a new reputation for itself.
“We have regular meetings, well attended; where decisions are made…you cannot have individuals who want to hold the party ransom, when you leave office and you are one of those individuals who did the same thing while in office …The party has learnt from that. We lost election due to disunity and we will resolve the problem…” the political leader asserted.
Asked about former Prime Minister and Castries North MP Stephenson King’s future in the UWP, Chastanet said, “I am still hopeful that we may resolve whatever differences there may be, but at the same time, the party must go on … it’s not like the party is going to stop and wait on the Honourable Stephenson King … he needs to make a decision and the party made theirs to elect Gale Rigobert.”
King and Castries Central MP Richard Fredrick, who are having issues with the UWP, played a major role in the 2006 general elections in Saint Lucia, which had placed the party in power back then.
The UWP leader further stated that his party is moving swiftly to ensure that it prepares for the next elections and that its policies will be an inclusive process, involving all Saint Lucians.
Chastanet revealed that a policy committee has been created by the party. The committee is divided into various units that are looking at issues such as: health care, education, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, youth, women affairs and other issues.
“We are preparing those documents so we have teams of people working on those policy positions. These policy papers will then go to the constituency branches, so that the members of the party can review them and have an input and a vote to support each of those policy positions,” he added.
“I think it’s fair to say that we believe in the vision plan planned by Sir John and that there needs to investment in infrastructure in our country… but infrastructure that is going to cause an increase both in your private sector and competitiveness overseas,” Chastanet stated.
Diversification of the economy is also a top priority for the party, he noted.
The party, he added, is making firm decisions to ensure that supporters are satisfied and will continue to meet with the people, so that they can have their concerns heard and addressed from representation from the UWP.