Minister for Education and Culture Hon. Myron V. Walwyn has been selected to lead the National Democratic Party in the next general elections that are constitutionally due before the end of 2019. This responsibility was assigned to Hon. Walwyn during the internal NDP elections that were held on 23 June when he was appointed Chairman of the Party.
Hon. Walwyn indicated that he has worked hard to reach this level of leadership and has already identified areas to be tackled as the Party moves forward to face the challenges ahead.
While speaking to reporters after securing the leadership of the NDP the new Chairman mentioned at least one thing he would like to see the Party and government working closer to ensure that promises made to the residents of the Territory are delivered: “One of the things that we want is to create a closer relationship between the Party and the government. The way political parties operate in the Virgin Islands has to change. It cannot just be a machine that you pick up at elections time. Part of their role is also to ensure that those promises we have made to the people through our manifesto are carried out,” Hon. Walwyn explained.
Saturday night internal elections signal the passage of the baton from Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith to the Education Minister. In his comments to the media Hon. Walwyn stressed the distinction between the two roles and emphasized that Hon. Smith was still the Leader of the Territory and his role was Party related.
“I think it is very important to draw distinction – the Premier will continue to be the Premier of the country. You can only have one Premier at a time and I privately and publicly gave him my support, I am going to stick to that and work as closely as I can with him. Then we are going to try to again get the Party machinery going and get ourselves ready for the next general elections,” the NDP Chairman said.
Additionally, Hon. Walwyn rubbished claims that there was disunity in the NDP and that some members were going to leave: “I really don’t, and I hope that is not the case; because if we truly love our country, and if we truly love our Party we will all find a way to work together. It is not about individuals it is about the country and making life better for the people,” he said.
Hon. Walwyn also spoke confidently of the structure of National Democratic Party: “The Party has a structure – it needs a bit of strengthening but the commitment is there from all the delegates and all the persons who were elected to the various offices. I don’t see an amazing challenge at all with this one.”
The Minister further noted that there were no issues between him and Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton who was the other challenger for the Chairmanship post. Hon. Walwyn said: “We all have to work together. I have an amazing amount of respect for Hon. Skelton… I am ready to work along with him if we are successful at the polls in 2019.”
Hon. Penn Optimistic
The internal elections also saw Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Hon. Marlon Penn being appointed Deputy Chairman of the NDP. His win was said to have been a team effort with Hon. Walwyn who extended kudos to the new NDP Deputy.
In hcongratulating Hon. Penn the NDP Chairman said: “Marlon and I came into politics together, our views for the movement of the country when we sat down as youngsters back in 2011 are still the same views and I am glad we get to work side by side now to move the country forward.”
During an interview with the media following the internal elections Hon. Penn spoke well of Second District Representative, Hon. Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull who was also vying for the Deputy Chairman post.
Hon. Penn said: “I congratulate him on a well fought campaign. We both mean well for this country. He has a lot of promise as well. I look forward to us working together going forward to really build this Party and to move this country forward.”
As it relates to rumors that members were planning to leave the NDP Hon. Penn said: “I disagree with that…Any election you have people who have different sides, people who support different candidates and it is no different in the internal Party elections,” he said.
He further told the media that following the elections party members pledged to work together. “We expressed those same sentiments tonight, that we are willing to work with the members of the Party to move this Party forward, to move this country forward; because the reality is that the BVI is at a crossroads right now.”
“We have a lot of work to do and we can’t do it being divided. We have to put our heads together to move this country forward…We are at a point where we pledged to work together, the Party is now pulling together.”
The Deputy Chairman further stated: “Our Party is solid as a rock, it is proven by the number of delegates that came out tonight in full force to vote and to support the democratic process and that is what we stand for as a Party. We are a family, despite our family disputes we stick together,” he added.