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In 2010, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of the National Democratic Congress continued to grapple with the effects of the global economic crisis and faced difficult choices regarding foreign investment. In August, a state appellate court in the United States cleared former deputy prime minister Gregory Bowen of any wrongdoing in the cancellation of the drilling and oil exploration rights of an American investor in Grenada. Additionally, a controversial maritime border treaty with Trinidad was concluded in April, which the Thomas government hopes will boost oil and gas exploration in Grenadian waters.
Grenada gained independence from Britain in 1974. Maurice Bishop’s Marxist New Jewel Movement seized power in 1979, creating a People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG). In 1983, Bishop was murdered by New Jewel hard-liners Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin, who took control of the country. However, a joint U.S.-Caribbean military intervention quickly removed the PRG and set the country on a path toward new elections. In 1986, Coard and 18 others were sentenced to death; subsequently, 2 of the 19 were pardoned, and the rest—who became known as the Grenada 17—had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. In 2006, an additional 4 of the 17 were released. In February 2007, the London-based Privy Council ruled that the same findings that had invalidated the death sentences also rendered the life sentences unconstitutional. The 13 remaining inmates received reduced sentences in June 2007, and 3 were immediately freed. The last prisoners were released in September 2009.
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of the New National Party (NNP) ruled Grenada from 1995 to 2008, when his party lost parliamentary elections to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). The NDC captured 11 seats in the 15-member House of Representatives, leaving the NNP with just 4. Tillman Thomas, the NDC leader, was sworn in as prime minister in July 2008.
Grenada enjoys greater economic stability than some neighboring countries, and a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2010 found that the country had made considerable progress in realizing its economic program. Despite certain levels of recovery, Grenada’s economy remained in recession in 2010 as the country continued to struggle with the effects of the global financial crisis. In the summer, the government refused to provide a Swedish development company with public financing for a massive tourism project, which would have created 4,000 new jobs. The government’s denial of funding led to the opposition NPP to accuse the Thomas administration of incompetence.
Grenada concluded a maritime demarcation treaty with Trinidad in April, which may facilitate private investment in oil exploration. However, Grenada’s link with foreign oil exploration investors remains a contentious issue. In August, a state appellate court in the United States cleared former deputy prime minister Gregory Bowen of any wrongdoing in the 2005 cancellation of American investor Jack Grynberg’s oil exploration contract. Bowen’s legal costs were assumed by Global Petroleum Group, a Russian company that was granted oil exploration rights in 2005 after the termination of Grynberg’s contract.
Grenada is an electoral democracy. The 2008 parliamentary elections were considered generally free and fair, although there were allegations of voter-list manipulation. The bicameral Parliament consists of thedirectly elected, 15-seat House of Representatives, whose members serve five-year terms, and the 13-seat Senate, to which the prime minister appoints 10 members and the opposition leader names 3. The prime minister is typically the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives and is appointed by the governor-general, who represents the British monarch as head of state. Grenada’s main political parties are the NDC, the NNP, the Grenada United Labor Party, and the People’s Labor Movement.