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May Grenada PM givein to Christmas spirit

Former Caribbean Prime Ministers rarely give unsolicited public advice to others still in office, but Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has appeared an appropriate choice for such treatment. Mr Thomas was last weekend deservedly made a butt of gentle ridicule in remarks by former prime minister James Mitchell of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

That Sir James was speaking at an event organised by the Grenadian opposition New National Party must have had the effect of rubbing salt in the wound. But this is an injury Mr Thomas inflicted on his own record as a once-celebrated champion of democratic freedoms, on the people of Grenada, and on the Caribbean region.

Three months ago, Prime Minister Thomas advised Grenada Governor General Carlyle Glean to prorogue Parliament. Sir Carlyle complied and the result has been the open-ended disabling of the legislative branch, and the denial to Grenadians of Parliamentary representation.

Appearing to make light of how Mr Thomas had put his Parliament in suspension, without setting an election date, Sir James voiced sentiment widely shared inside Grenada and out.

 

"Give Grenadians a Christmas present: dissolve the Parliament for God's sake," said the colourful former St Vincent and the Grenadines leader. His "Christmas present" recommendation resonated across the region with all sharing the concern for the political and constitutional doldrums into which the Spice Island has been plunged with the throttling of its Parliament.

Mr Thomas prematurely ended the Parliamentary session, with no word on when a new session might be held, if at all, before general election constitutionally due by July 2013. But the prorogation had the effect of preventing anticipated debate on a no-confidence motion brought by a former ally of Mr Thomas.

The shuttering of Parliament thus stirred speculation that the Prime Minister was uncertain of his level of support in Parliament. The juncture marked a notable come-down from July 2008 when Mr Thomas' National Democratic Congress had won 11 of the 15 Parliamentary seats.

Eventually, however, the Thomas-led administration was contending against disunity in the ranks. Going to such lengths in avoidance of the no-confidence debate inevitably suggested Mr Thomas was uncertain of the support his leadership retains among the majority of his own party's MPs. He characterised the prorogation as "nothing out of the normal course of things", assuring that Grenada is in "election mode".

Grenada is surely in economic difficulty. For failure to pay an installment due last September on a $US193 million loan, Standards and Poor's has downgraded the island's credit rating, making it harder to borrow much-needed funds. The economy is one pressing topic on which Grenadians are entitled to hear from their representatives.

To give Grenadians full enjoyment of the democracy for which he and they have fought, Mr Thomas should need no further goading or pressure from anyone.

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