By Saju Ng’alla

Prime Minister Denzil Douglas denied rumors that there was a rift between himself and his Minister of National Security, Dwyer Astaphan.

However, Astaphan has announced he does not plan to run in the next general election.

Regardless of this announcement, Douglas said he gets along well with Astaphan.

“As far as I am aware there is no rift,” Douglas said. “I see no rift, and I see no reason why it has been manufactured.”

Douglas said his cabinet is made up of elected represented with different backgrounds. So at times cabinet members will not necessary share the same views on certain issues.

“I run a cabinet of different people,” Douglas said. “… We have our own different training. We represent different constituencies and different communities.”

However, Douglas said all of his cabinet members believe in the governing principles of the Labour Party.

“So I suspect that we would be able to tolerate different seeds of opinion.

“The whole point is that at the end of the day we are very much on the same page with the mandate that has been given to us and how we would in fact act on that mandate,” Douglas said.

Astaphan said regardless of whether he is in government or not he will always be committed to the principles and philosophy of the Labour movement.

“I don’t plan to contest the next election as a candidate,” Astaphan said. “I will use every resource that is at my disposal to make sure that the strides and the accomplishments of the country to date are not squandered.”

Astaphan said his decision not run has nothing to do with rumors.

“Rumors of any split or deep divide within the Labour Party, or between myself and the leadership of the Labour Party are simply a fantasy, or maybe even wishful thinking,” Astaphan said. “Of course people have differences of opinion and of course anybody with any intelligence and any principle would want to participate in any discussion in a vigorous and enthusiastic and positive way.

“And the way the Labour Party operates for those who have attended it conferences meetings at all levels, will see that our meetings are always vigorous and always interesting and always examining of the leaders and each other.”

Astaphan said the examining nature of the Labour Party is fundamental to the preservation of democracy and fundamental to the understanding of all, in that that the elected leaders are accountable to those who they lead.

Astaphan said he would like to announce his successor by the end of the year.

The Prime Minister said he is aware that Astaphan plans not to run in the next election.

“Mr. Astaphan did make those same statements just before the last election and he is still a part of the cabinet,” Douglas said. “The point is that we have a democratic system in the party. We are governed by a constitution that outlines specifically the process that has to be followed in the replacement of a candidate.

“One thing I am certain is that we are never short of good people to be candidates in the lab our party.”

Astaphan was in agreement with those statements.

“So if anybody thinks for a moment that Central Basseterre is now up for grabs, like in an auction sale, they need think again,” Astaphan said. “That will not be the case.

“We have a list of potential successors that will fit well in the most loft ministerial company in any country in the world, in terms of intellectual ability, principles and integrity, philosophical commitment and national fervor.

“Indeed the next candidate for central Basseterre will represent and embody and significant improvement on the present incumbent.”

“It will only get better,” Astaphan said.