By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
While declaring that he has never seen a more impressive group of potential leaders than those now in the governing National Democratic Party (NDP), Mark Vanterpool said he is not among persons jostling for leadership of the organization founded in 1999.
“I am absolutely not in the running; I don’t have the interest in it at all,” he told BVI News Online.
Vanterpool, who also is the minister of communication and works, said he will support whoever becomes the new leader of the NDP, but he is not yet prepared to say who he thinks is best suited.
“Whoever becomes the leader, I am fully in support of them… I consider myself a senior member of the group in terms of encouraging the [leadership transition] process to go through our convention and whatever else has to be done before that, and then we go through a process. I am there to support the process,” added Vanterpool.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith is the current leader of the NDP, and he has not publicly given a timeline for his departure from the post.
He however is expected to quit ahead of the next general election that – at the far end – may be close to three years away.
According to Vanterpool, Premier Smith, at this time, seems more interested in turning capital projects into reality than in exiting the political arena.
“No; no; I haven’t heard anything [about when he will step down as NDP leader]. The premier is fully bent on getting his projects going, and getting all of the major works that he wants to see done – as far as I know. I have never seen a gentleman who can work so hard like him. He is up for long hours, travelling all over the place, trying to keep the country running. I have to admire him for his tenacity and lot of energy. So, I support him in continuing to go forward.”
Asked if he thinks the premier’s ‘energy’ may boost him to lead the party he co-founded into another general election, Vanterpool replied: “The premier has a lot of energy; he is very energetic. I am not sure if that is because he is so slim build – unlike me who is a little heavier than I should be. He wants to get his projects moving; so we are supporting him.”
While Premier Smith may be engrossed in his ‘capital project’ pursuits, some party insiders said the search is already on for a new NDP leader.
The front-runners are said to be Myron Walwyn and NDP co-founder Dr Kedrick Pickering.
Vanterpool appears to be closer to Walwyn, but he would not be drawn into now declaring his choice.
“No; not at the moment,” he told BVI News Online.
“We are very new in our new term [in Government]. My focus is to do the work the premier has assigned me. The infrastructure of the country is in a bad shape and I am trying to bring it together – road, sewerage, water, city development. That’s my job. I am not getting distracted with all of the things that are out there about election right now. [General] elections are two-and-a-half to three years away. I have a job to do,” Vanterpool further said.
NDP doesn’t have nasty infighting
Vanterpool further told BVI News Online that he is confident the NDP will settle any leadership challenge amicably – not in the disunity being predicted by Chairman of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party Andrew Fahie.
“That’s not the NDP; it (nasty campaign) won’t happen in the NDP. We will go through a process. Of course in anything you will have issues; any competition or any contest that an organization goes though, we have to go through them and keep going. I think the party is very poised in its effort to build the country and make it better. Unlike what a lot of people think, we don’t have any personal interest. Some people will say all sorts of things; we want to see the country do well.”
“I have never seen a group with so many competent persons that are fit to run this country. I don’t think there has ever been a group like this (NDP) before with the competency both at the younger level and at the – I don’t want to say older level like myself. Also, in the mid-level, there are many people who are very keen on leadership,” added Vanterpool.
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