Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley has offered some friendly advice to newly elected president of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Verla De Peiza: a tough road lies ahead to rebuild the party after its 30-nil defeat at the May 24 polls.
Atherley, who ran on a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) ticket, only to cross the floor days after the BLP won the Government, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that he was hopeful that De Peiza would be successful in the revitalization effort, adding that the DLP was vital to Barbadian democracy.
“De Peiza was elected in a democratic process and within the context of the [party’s] annual conference. The DLP has served Barbados well historically despite their mis-direction in the last few years. So I wish her the best and I think we should give her a chance to see what she can do because it is a long road back for that party but in the interest of democracy we would want to see that party rise again,” Atherley said.
Critics have questioned the election of De Peiza, who has never won a parliamentary seat, while some pundits have described her ascension as a stopgap until a new leader emerges.
But Atherley told Barbados TODAY that while he does not know much about De Peiza’s skillsets, he does not expect a major political party such as the DLP would elect an incapable leader.
“I don’t know her that well but I am not one to think that the party would elect her to that position at this critical juncture without having a sense that she has the leadership capabilities. Its going to be touch but I am hoping that she can pull it together,” he said.
DePeiza, who was elected unopposed on Sunday, took over from Freundel Stuart, who had announced three months earlier that he was stepping down following the unprecedented electoral shutout of all 30 seats in the House of Assembly.
Former Parliamentary Secretary Irene Sandiford-Garner was elected as first vice president, with Nicholas Alleyne, George Connolly and Andre Worrell as 2nd, 3rd and 4th vice president, respectively, while Frank Firebrace was elected treasurer.
Guyson Mayers replaced long-serving General Secretary George Pilgrim, while Undene Whittaker was elected assistant general secretary.