Peter David looking to succeed Keith Mitchell as party leader in Grenada

By Lincoln DePradine

Peter David

Dr Keith Mitchell, the former Grenada Prime Minister who had indicated that the 2022 election campaign was his final as he prepared to close the door on politics, is showing no sign of leaving anytime soon, but could face a challenge to his leadership stranglehold on the opposition New National Party (NNP).

Peter David, an attorney and former foreign minister who is NNP’s assistant general secretary, says he’s mulling over the idea of becoming the successor to Mitchell as party leader.

“The party’s constitution allows a member of the party in good standing to put themselves up for leadership. I am giving very active consideration to the issue of leadership of the party,’’ David said on a Sunday talk program.

Mitchell, 76, has been NNP head since 1989 and has led the party to five general election wins, including back-to-back 15-0 clean sweep victories in 2013 and 2018.

In last year’s general election campaign, he urged Grenadian voters to return him to office, calling it “one for the road’’, suggesting he had decided to end his involvement in frontline politics.

“We anticipate taking him at his word that he’s not going to be putting himself up for leadership in the next convention, and there will be other persons putting themselves up for leadership,’’ said David.

Mitchell lost the 2022 general election to newcomer leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), 45-year-old attorney Dickon Mitchell, who now is prime minister.

Keith Mitchell

Former PM Mitchell, who was reelected during last year’s national poll and then took the oath as official Opposition Leader, has given no serious indication of leaving the political arena or relinquishing his leadership of the NNP.

Leadership issues are settled at the annual convention of the NNP, which is expected to be held this year.

However, Mitchell has dismissed calls for the holding of a convention and for leadership change in the NNP.

“That’s not the critical factor,’’ Mitchell said Monday in an appearance on Talking Point, a pro-NNP talkshow. “The critical factor is we’re supposed to be helping people, not finding positions and looking for power; that’s not what it’s all about. Power will come but let’s serve people.’’

Mitchell, in Monday’s discussion, was also critical of NNP MP and former cabinet minister, Delma Thomas, who has made a public commitment to work with NDC Senator Gloria Thomas, minister of housing and gender, on development projects in their shared community in the Parish of St Andrew.

The action of Delma Thomas, Mitchell said, is “not the right approach. She seems to be doing what she perceives as her right as person. The party gave no permission for any such engagement’’.

Peter David with Keith Mitchell

David, on the other hand, said although it’s “unusual in our politics to hear people from two parties working together’’, he has “no difficulty with it’’.

“There is lots more that can be achieved working together,’’ he added. “This tribalism that permeates our politics is something we need to change,’’ said David, who earned his first degree from Carlton University in Ottawa.

David, 65, said organizational work, led by the NNP’s general secretary, is taking place ahead of the hosting of the party’s annual convention.

“Once the party confirms the convention, once the party confirms when the convention is going to be, then I’m going to make a public statement on it,’’ said David, who is a four-time MP that has served in the cabinet of both NNP and NDC governments. He also was a junior minister in the People’s Revolutionary Government of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.

“I have paid my dues,’’ he said. “I go back a long way; I go back 50 years in politics.’’