Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Founding member of the incumbent National Democratic Party (NDP), Hon. Ronnie Skelton, with backings from two prominent businessmen, has reportedly started serious discussions to form a new political party.
Skelton, Health and Social Development Minister and At-Large Representative, has been holding meetings with several individuals, who he wants to have on his ticket for the next General Elections.
Reports are that some of the persons who are being courted include prominent senior counsel, Me. Gerard Farara, QC, former NDP District-3 candidate, Mr. Kevin ‘OJ’ Smith, Second District Representative, Hon. Melvin Mitch Turnbull, Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Wade Smith, Mr. Franklyn Walters, and former Health Minister under the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government, Dancia Penn-Sallah, QC, among other persons.
BVI Platinum News understands that the last meeting was held on Saturday, September 29.
When contacted last week about reports that he is forming a new party, Hon. Skelton, who chuckled initially, told BVI Platinum News, “It’s not quite so, but whenever it is so I will make my announcement.”
Skelton, who once served as Finance Minister and who many view as an astute businessman, went up for the post of Chairman of the NDP back in July, but lost to Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister of Education and At-Large Representative. The vote count at the party’s Convention was Walwyn - 68 and Skelton - 51.
Hon. Turnbull was also on team Skelton for the post of Deputy Chairman, but lost to Hon. Marlon Penn. The vote count was Penn - 69 and Turnbull - 50.
The NDP has been battling an internal rift in recent years with long time party leader, Premier Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith announcing that he was not going to seek re-election.
The party’s infighting has intensified following the outcome of the July Convention with several founding members considering plans to part ways with the party.
According to reports, Hon. Walwyn has already started the process of selecting new candidates.
This picture mirrors that of VIP, where over a year after losing the Chairmanship to Hon. Andrew Fahie, Hon. Julian Fraser moved to form a new party, Progressives United (PU). He too is on the journey of courting persons to join his party, while the VIP Congress in recent months has ratified several new candidates.
Residents are watching keenly as the two major political parties NDP and VIP undergo a transition to new leadership.