Executive members and delegates of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) met last Sunday afternoon at Coconut Bay Resort for a marathon national council meeting to discuss that party’s future. However, the final decisions of Sunday’s meeting are likely to be revealed by Tuesday the earliest.
The emergency meeting, which began at 2 pm, ended around 9:25 pm, more than five hours past the advertised time of 4 pm by which a press conference was supposed to have been held. The closed session was aimed at discussing restructuring the party and making crucial decisions going forward.
In the 17-minute interview the media conducted with Party Chairman Ezechiel Joseph following the meeting, it became clear that the media will have to wait a bit longer for any concrete information or resolution that transpired at last Sunday’s party meeting in Vieux Fort.
“We discussed a number of matters with regard to the party moving forward,” Joseph, the former Babonneau MP, told the media. “A number of decisions were taken in the interest of the party.”
When pressed for details of those decisions taken, Joseph said the party was now in the process of reviewing its constitution to put to rest an outstanding issue with one of the party’s high-ranking positions.
“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,” Joseph said.
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. Following a parliamentary caucus meeting to be held this afternoon (Monday), details on such changes are expected to be released to the media on Tuesday.
“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.
Speculation is rife that Opposition Leader Stephenson King will be stripped of his role as leader of the opposition following Monday afternoon’s parliamentary caucus meeting at which the current six UWP MPs are expected to vote. However, Joseph would not confirm that, saying only that the delegates had given strict instructions to the UWP MPs.
Confidentiality was another matter discussed at Sunday’s meeting. Joseph said a breach in party confidentiality was “the reason why we are here today”. He said the delegates expressed that internal matters have no place in the public domain.
Joseph said that confidentiality was one of the mantras the party adopted at a recent party retreat. Asked whether disciplinary action would be taken against anyone responsible for breaching party confidence, Joseph said all matter will be sent to the disciplinary committee for consideration. The party, he said, is on a path to change.
“The party is stronger than ever. The party is going through a restructuring exercise. We are about five months since the last national convention and we got some strong commitments today from every delegate that they would abide by the constitution of the party moving forward. Decisions have to be made: there will be some who will be satisfied (and) some who will not be satisfied. But in the final analysis, we have to embrace the decisions, respect them and move forward,” Joseph explained.
By the time the media was allowed into the meeting hall, barely a dozen delegates and party hierarchy officials were there. While Joseph did confirm that all sitting UWP MPs except for Castries Central MP Richard Frederick, had attended the meeting, the leader of the opposition was nowhere to be seen. Neither were Dr. Gale Rigobert, Edmund Estephane, and Arsene James.
Party Leader Allen Chastanet and Castries South-East MP Guy Joseph were present but declined comment.
According to the party chairman, King has signaled that he remains committed to working with the party regardless of his future roles in the party he has served for nearly 33 years. He said no factions exist within the party – just people venting their views in a frank manner.
Just how the decisions – and in-decisions – taken by the party will play out, only time will tell. But Joseph remains convinced that the party is on the right path.
“As chairman, I must say that I’m very satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and we have left here stronger than ever,” Joseph said.