St. Lucia’s new prime minister pledges to hit the ground running
CASTRIES – Less than 24 hours after his United Workers Party (UWP) won general elections, Allen Chastanet was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, promising that he would immediately begin work on improving the economy and life for the people of St. Lucia.
The UWP won 11 of the 17 constituencies, while the incumbent St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) secured the other six in Monday’s polls.
After being sworn in yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Chastanet told an audience that included Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, elected parliamentary representatives, senior party officials, critical state officials and a select few invited guests that the hard work was not beginning and he needed the cooperation of all St. Lucians.
“The will of the people was to give the United Workers Party an opportunity to pursue policies and programs aimed at improving the standard of living and the quality of life for all St. Lucians. For this ambitious goal to be achieved, I will require the cooperation and full support of all St. Lucians,” he said.
“It is for this reason that I wish to signal, from the outset, my desire to foster a far more cooperative and collaborative relationship with all interests in society, including the official Opposition.”
Chastanet said that as he accepted the overwhelming mandate given to the UWP to govern the country for the next five years, he was well aware of “the enormous job that lies ahead and the high level of expectation that exists among the population, particularly those who voted for the winning party”.
He said his new government intended to move to address the problems highlighted in the election campaign, including the 24 per cent unemployment rate, unsatisfactory standards in health care and inaccessible tertiary education for those who wish to go beyond secondary.
“We have as a country to arrest the current state of disillusionment and hopelessness among our youth. We also have to provide a more comfortable and dignified existence for our seniors. All this will require our hitting the road running from day one. And by day one, I mean today, Tuesday June 7th. That’s why I did not declare today a holiday, because I considered it the best way of my signaling to the country that we mean business and are serious about starting the job of building a new St. Lucia for all,” the new prime minister said, promising that his administration would “put money in people’s pockets”.
Chastanet urged St. Lucians to set aside political, ethnic and class barriers and pull together to make the country one of the best places in the world, to live, to work, to study, to do business, to visit and to enjoy life.
“From today, we shall begin to plough the land and plant the seeds together. All we are asking you to do is to help us protect and grow our new economic and social plants in St. Lucia. When harvest-time comes we shall all share the produce equitably,” he appealed.
Prime Minister Chastanet gave no hints about possible Cabinet appointments during his address, but he expected to announce the assigned portfolios shortly.
Several Caribbean leaders, as well as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission have sent congratulations to Chastanet and his UWP.
The OECS Commission said it is heartened by the peaceful conduct of the elections and commended the electorate and the political parties for the restraint and high level of maturity which was manifested throughout the process.
It said it looked forward to working closely with the new government to further the objectives of the country and of the OECS, and also expressed sincere thanks to former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony for his contribution to the work of the organisation and for the guidance and support extended to the Commission during his tenure as Head of Government.