He told a meeting on Sunday that, as NDC leader, he has the “right” to decide who runs for the part at the next national poll, which is due by next year.
The statement, as well as the organizing of the meeting itself, has caused some raised eyebrows on the part of many NDC members and supporters.
Under the party’s constitution, candidates are usually chosen by their constituency branches and the nominee’s name is sent for ratification to a committee of the NDC executive that includes the leader and the general secretary.
In addition, Sunday’s meeting was organized without consultation with the South St George Constituency Branch that is chaired by Peter Spencer.
“I was told I had nothing to do because everything was done,” said Spencer. “People are generally upset about what took place on Sunday.”
The meeting was chaired by NDC deputy leader and minister of finance, Nazim Burke.
Among the attendees were NDC supporters from various constituencies, as well as education minister Sen. Franka Bernardine, and information and national mobilization minister, Sen. Glen Noel.
Sources say the gathering is one in a planned series titled “Solidarity Sunday Meeting.”
However, it flies in the face of calls made to Thomas at the March 25 general council to respect the party’s structure by coordinating with the NDC constituency branches, and consulting with the sitting MPs, in organizing the meetings.
MP Glynis Roberts, who did not attend on Sunday, said she remains grateful to everyone who has been standing with her as the two-term parliamentary representative for St George South.
“I again want to thank them for their confidence and trust in me as their MP since 2003,” said Roberts, who is also minister of labour. “And on a personal note, I want to let them know how much I appreciate the phone calls and visits to my home as my family and I tend for my ill husband.”
Asked for about Sunday’s meeting, participants expressed a range of views that mostly focused on the comments of the prime minister and the timing of the get-together.
“Other than the fact of the lack of consultation, it was a very insensitive time to hold the meeting, considering what Mrs Roberts is going through,” said Spencer, the constituency branch chairman.
Others said that while they were impressed with the prime minister’s confidence in NDC winning the next election, they were surprised at his notion that he could do so without the presence of current MPs such as Roberts, Sylvester Quarless, Peter David and Joseph Gilbert.
“There was a side of the prime minister that I have never seen before,” one person said. “It was troubling and frightening the way he accused some party comrades and ministers of having a leftist agenda, and warning that Maurice Bishop didn’t deal with them but he will deal with them.”
NDC sources say Thomas has indicated that he wants Bernardine to replace Roberts as the candidate for St George South in the next election.