‘Pep’ Says He’s Quitting On His Own Terms

Image: Dr. Long (center) flanked by SLP Chairman, Claudius Francis(left), and General Secretary, Leo Clarke(right)
Image: Dr. Long (center) flanked by SLP Chairman, Claudius Francis(left), and General Secretary, Leo Clarke(right)
Dr. Long (center) flanked by SLP Chairman, Claudius Francis(left), and General Secretary, Leo Clarke(right)

FIRST-TERM Anse la Raye/Canaries parliamentarian, Dr. Desmond “Pep” Long, says he will soon be trading in his desire for elective politics to pay more attention to his private medical practice.

Dr. Long, a multiple calypso monarch-turned-politician, made the disclosure at a media briefing held at the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s headquarters on Jeremie Street last Tuesday morning.

Flanked by SLP Chairman, Claudius Francis, and General Secretary, Leo Clarke, Dr. Long read a prepared statement in which he explained that his decision was the result of a year-long consideration about his political future.

Dr. Long said that upon entering elective politics in 2011, he anticipated that he would have been able to balance both his responsibility to his constituency and his patients. He said he later found that he was unable to fulfil both roles as effectively as he would have liked, prompting his decision to forego the next general elections.

“Whereas I retain the commitment to assisting those from my constituency in need of my medical help, I must make way for the Labour Party to find someone who can devote the time and attention which the people of Anse la Raye/Canaries deserve,” Dr. Long said.

Dr. Long said that upon recognizing that he would be unable to “give 100% of what is required during the upcoming election campaign”, he advised party executives at an earlier meeting that he would not be seeking re-election but would continue to support the party’s cause.

“I wish to make it clear that I am not leaving the Saint Lucia Labour Party, a party I continue to love dearly, but simply will not be contesting the next general elections,” Dr. Long stated. “I also pledge to my colleagues my continued support and my intention to do what I can to ensure a Labour victory at the polls.”

Dr. Long’s term in office began on an unsteady footing. For starters, many of his constituents vented their outrage publicly after he was sworn in as parliamentarian but not assigned a ministerial portfolio. While many people had suspected he would be assigned the ministerial portfolio for health, Dr. Long later sought to allay his constituents’ outrage by stating that he held no grudges. He was later appointed Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

In terms of his stewardship, many argue that long-standing socio-economic concerns in the west coast constituency did not receive the requisite attention. Anse la Raye/Canaries is billed as the nation’s poorest constituency, so much so that it has more people employed in the Short-Term Employment Programme (STEP) via a special mechanism to create jobs for that constituency. Dr. Long said he did all he could to address those concerns.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last four years despite the economic condition of the country,” Dr. Long said. “We have done quite a bit, so there’s nothing in particular that stands out as my best (achievement). I’m appreciative of everything I have done.”

Dr. Long listed the upgrading of playing fields, re-energizing of youth and sports councils and job creation through the National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE) as some of his achievements, adding that some projects are in the pipeline.

Dr. Long said he also spent the past four years of a “demanding term” developing a special kinship with his constituents and pledged to continue working in their interest until their next representative replaces him, including offering them medical services. However, he stated that he was leaving on his own terms and not acrimoniously.

“I am aware that rumours have surfaced that I am being pushed out, that I was dissatisfied with not being given a ministerial portfolio and that the party did not wish me to contest as their preferred candidate,” Dr. Long said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. The Political Leader and the Party’s executive have stood by me from my very first day in politics. No one called on me to step down or not to contest the upcoming election. That is my decision, taken after consultation with my family, loved ones and close friends.”

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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