Photo by Arnaud Jaegers
The opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has won a landslide victory in the country’s 26 July General Election. The new Prime Minister is Phillip Pierre.
The SLP secured 13 of the 17 parliamentary constituencies, while the incumbent United Workers Party (UWP) led by Former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet retained only two seats, those of Chastanet and former Commerce Minister Bradley Felix.
In a what was a controversial decision, the SLP opted to field candidates in only 15 constituencies; excluding the two constituencies where former UWP members Stephenson King and Richard Frederick campaigned and were successfully elected as independents. Outgoing Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said the results of the election came as a “shock”.
“This is the start of a new beginning,” declared Pierre during the swearing-in ceremony. The task ahead will not be easy, but together with my team of able and experienced men and women we will deliver to the people of St Lucia,” the new Prime Minister said.
Pierre, who previously served as Deputy Prime Minister in the last SLP Administration, asked for patience as the government seeks to “assess the state of the country’s financing and capacity to deliver early as possible, the commitments made to the people of St Lucia”.
The SLP campaigned on the promise of social and economic inclusion and anti-corruption. Major proposals included the exemption of workers earning up to US$1,480 per month from paying income tax, completion of the long-awaited St Jude Hospital, the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund, and the removal of school and Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examination fees. The political manifesto also included the significant expansion of the tourism sector through key initiatives to increase hotel room stock and improve the performance of the cruise and yachting industry.
“The only way of restoring our nation to economic and financial stability is to develop the economy by facilitating job creation in the private sector, placing more money in the hands of workers and strengthening the capacity of the revenue collection agencies of the government,” Pierre said.
On the foreign policy front, the SLP Administration proposed the establishment of economic diplomacy with non-traditional countries in order to encourage increased foreign direct investment, and to strengthen relations with the French Caribbean.
Regional leaders have sent messages of congratulations to Mr Pierre. In a letter, Antiguan Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman, Gaston Browne congratulated the newly appointed Prime Minister and noted that he is looking forward to work with him.
“The people of St Lucia have entrusted you to lend your voice to the discussion and policies that govern the region through an institution such as the organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the CARICOM,” Browne wrote.
Calling the election results a “stunning victory”, Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves pledged that his country would continue working with the Government and people of St. Lucia on matters of development.
For his part, Former Prime Minister Chastanet said that he called Prime Minister Pierre “to congratulate him and wish him the best”. Chastanet thanked those who supported the UWP in the election and over the last five years. “We have stayed focused and strong… It was truly a privilege to serve you as Prime Minister,” the presumed Opposition Leader said.
On 5 August the SLP Cabinet of Ministers took the oath of office. Notable portfolios include Prime Minister Pierre as Minister of Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy, Moses Jn. Baptise as Health Minister, and Ernest Hilaire as Tourism Minister. In a surprise move, independent MP and former UWP minister, Stephenson King was sworn in as Minister of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport.
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