Allen Chastanet’s work at test as St Lucia goes into elections on July 26

Allen Chastanet's work at test as St Lucia goes into elections on July 26
Allen Chastanet's work at test as St Lucia goes into elections on July 26

Castries, St Lucia: General elections of St Lucia will be taking place on July 26, 2021. Prime Minister Allen Chastanet declared the date on Monday. The 2021 elections in the country are expected to based on two significant aspects, the COVID-19 pandemic and the handling of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, on Monday, during his address, accepted that the elections had been delayed because he was waiting for the results on significant resolutions involving the United States government. He also noted that the delay was also caused after seeing a fall-out in other Caribbean countries during the pandemic.

The United Workers Party that holds the current government under Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s leadership, had initiated their social media campaigning long before announcing the final date of elections.

The leading opposition, St Lucia Labour Party, is now presenting a new face as its Prime Ministerial candidate, Philip Pierre, is leading the party for the 2021 General Elections. He had been SLP’s parliamentary representative for the Castries East constituency since 1997.

The general elections are only 20 days away, and the political parties have fastened their seatbelts to reach the larger public every day. While the UWP is experiencing a sense of criticism on handling the COVID-19 pandemic, SLP is claiming to have a solution to the economic meltdown caused by the pandemic.

Some social workers came forward to display the actual image of COVID-19 testing centres in St Lucia; one such person was Tiffany Jones, who revealed the true image of the testing centres. Ms Jones told the media that the testing centres in St Lucia had minimal protection, with nobody on the doors to check the temperature or sanitize hands. She had also told that even during the peak days of a virus outbreak, people roamed freely without face masks at the centres, and positive patients were isolated with nothing but a sheet between them to protect others.

St Lucia was also among the last Caribbean countries to get COVID-19 vaccines; India had delivered doses of Astrazeneca vaccine to sister nations which they later shared with St Lucia so the government could vaccinate its front line workers. But, days after the community spread, the country somehow received 25,000 doses of Indian, made Covishield vaccines part of India’s “Vaccine Maitri Initiative”. The initiative aimed at providing free COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.

A viral video of roof leakage at St Jude Hospital on a rainy morning also created outrage in the general public, where people questioned the government of its developmental claims.

Besides this, the agriculture community also experienced a backlash with fishers denied access to lockers. Many had to travel to communities throughout the island, day and night, to hawk their fish due to restrictions on how much fish they can sell to the private company.

During its tenure, the St Lucia Labour Party had created National Initiative to Create employment to provide technical and vocational training to assist individuals in finding employment. The UWP in 2016 promised to continue the programme and increase the salaries; however, it was later discontinued by the Allen Chastanet government.

The current Prime Minister Allen Chastanet had protested the rising prices of fuel when the St Lucia Labour Party was in power, but the under United Workers Party, the country is experiencing a record high in fuel, gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas prices. In 2016 Gasoline was priced at $10.59 while now the prices are $13.93. Similarly, diesel was $9.08, now $12.85,Kerosene was $5.40 now $7.00, 20lb cylinder cooking gas was $24.63 now $31.33, 22lb cylinder cooking gas was $27.38 now $34.46, 100lb cylinder cooking gas was $163.08 now $208.13.

The prices of daily needs goods have gone up, while the regular income of the general public is decreased due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A larger portion of the population that relied on the tourism sector is now unemployed.

Since 1951, St Lucia Labour Party and United Workers Party have been major political parties in the country. The first Prime Minister John Compton elected in 1951 was associated with the United Workers Party; however, after only 130 days of assuming office, he was later thrown out by the St Lucia Labour Party.

St. Lucia gained freedom on February 22, 1979. Less than five months later, the Labour Party, an alliance of conservatives and radicals pulled together by their fierce opposition to the regime, amazed itself by winning a democratic election. Allan Louisy became the new Prime Minister.

The opposition left-wing Labour Party (SLP) won a conclusive victory, winning 12 of the 17 seats in the House of assembly, while the United Workers’ Party, led by Prime Minister John Compton and in power since 1964, was reduced to five Assembly seats.