Insisting that “my mission is not over,” Premier Donaldson Romeo has announced that he would be contesting the November 18 general elections as an independent candidate.
Romeo, 57, who led the ruling People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), was ousted as its leader earlier this month, less than 24 hours after he had announced that voters in this British Overseas territory would be going to the polls on November 18 to elect a new government.
He has been replaced by his Communications, Works, Energy and Labour Minister, Paul Lewis, during an election held to review the PDM’s leadership position in a democratic way.
“This may come as a surprise to many, but it has been taken after much reflection, prayer and analysis in light of several developments over the last week,” Romeo said in a radio broadcast Thursday night announcing his decision to contest the polls as an independent candidate.
“At the same time I am convinced that my mission is not over. Accordingly I must share with you, my greatest supporters and well-wishers my intention to proceed as a candidate in the upcoming elections.
“I am therefore compelled to issue this public statement, one that will be shared with the various media houses so as to reduce misconceptions that may circulate. My mission is not finished and I am determined to act as always in the continued best interest of the people of Montserrat.”
Romeo, who outlined what he said were the achievements of his administration over the last five years, said “whatever the outcome, no matter where I am placed, I shall continue to serve the people of Montserrat with passion and with the confidence in our bright future”.
Romeo was first elected to parliament as an independent candidate in 2011.
He was a candidate for the Montserrat Democratic Party in the 2006 general elections and three years later ran as an independent becoming Opposition Leader in 2011.
He formed the PDM in 2014 in order to contest the elections. The party won seven of the nine seats in the Legislative Assembly in September that year. But he was voted out as leader of the party earlier this month and replaced with Lewis who said that the PDM “remains together as a united and committed party”’ as it enters the campaign for the elections in November and was confident of victory..
Last October, Romeo survived a move by disgruntled opposition legislators to bring down his administration when a key government backbencher indicated that he had no intention of supporting a vote of no confidence against him.
Former agriculture minister Claude Hogan held the key to the survival of the government that faced an uphill task to complete its first five-year term, but told legislators that they should withdraw the motion, adding “if you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan.
In the 2014 general election, the PDM defeated the then ruling Movement for Change & Prosperity (MCAP), the Alliance of Independent Candidates and 10 other independents.
In the upcoming poll, it is expected to face a challenge from MCAP, Montserrat United Labour Party (MULP), Montserrat National Congress (MNC) as well as a number of independent candidates who have announced their intentions to contest the elections.