NDP: Only solution is free and fair elections

Statement By the New Democratic Party

There currently exists in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) a crisis in governance. This is due in part to the unsettled and unresolved state of affairs related to the results of the general elections that were held on December 9, 2015 and various troubling events which have come about as a consequence of the mal-administration by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) Government of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves that have destabilized constitutional government and democratic processes in the country, coupled with pervasive incidence of evident socio-economic decay, with the off-shoots of joblessness and prevalent serious crime among our youth.

A significant section of public opinion now believes that the only solution to the calamity that has engulfed the country is the holding of free and fair elections at the earliest.

The crisis manifests itself in the following conditions:-

[1]     The legitimacy of the single seat majority ULP Government is in doubt, due to the widespread electoral irregularities and even fraud, perpetrated on and before election day, which have invalidated the results that gave eight seats out of fifteen to the ULP in the elections held on December 9, 2015. And this state of affairs is being exposed and highlighted in the two election petitions in which candidates of the New Democratic Party have challenged this result and which for over two years have been moving at a snail’s pace before the Courts, and in the course of which photographs of the ballot papers used in the elections have been put into evidence, showing that the ballot papers were not designed in compliance with the electoral laws, and the top election officials having made sworn statements admitting that they counted hundreds of illegal ballots in one constituency.

And furthermore, the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has in an appeal brought by the NDP petitioners, handed down its judgment, in which it found the judge before whom the petitions were heard initially was biased in favour of the respondents (i.e. ULP candidates and Government officials) when he struck out the petitions. The Court of Appeal ordered that they be reinstated and be heard before a different judge.

[2]     Anticipating that fresh elections must be called in the coming months and having previously announced that he would not lead the ULP into another election, PM Gonsalves in a desperate attempt to create a political dynasty, installed his son Mr. Camillo Gonsalves, as Minister of Finance, in preparing him to succeed as Prime Minister despite severe public opposition.

Moreover, widespread domestic, regional and international condemnation and uproar have been waging over recent weeks, as a result of what has been described as a most cynical, manipulative and unethical action by the State, wherein a 23 year old female model of a socially under privileged background, who allegedly had a sexual affair with the Minister of Finance for over three years, was charged with using abusive language to the Minister’s wife and  upon the insistence of the prosecution was detained by a Magistrate in a Psychiatric facility for three weeks, ostensibly for evaluation.

Also, the Minister’s refusal to give any explanation to the public or the Parliament in relation to these allegations, despite calls by the Opposition and responsible agencies of public opinion that he should do so, is contemptuous and disrespectful of the citizens whom he purports to represent.

[3]    Also, our economic situation is dire. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the recent report on the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines paints a bleak picture that confirms the hardship and pain Vincentians have been enduring for the past several years.

The IMF stated that economic growth averaged 0.2 percent over 2009-2016, was expected to remain “relatively flat in 2017” and was expected to grow by a mere 2.1 in 2018. The overall unemployment rate at 25 percent is higher now than it was in 2001, when it was 20.9 percent. More alarming is the fiding that the rate of youth unemployment is a staggering 46 percent.

Repayment of our external debts increased as commercial loans came due in 2017 (i.e. EC$128million in 2017 up from EC$55million in 2016). Our tourism sector continues to languish, and hope is being extinguished among farmers by inept policies and callous governmental neglect.

 [4]    Most importantly, there has been an outpouring of public reaction against the unconstitutional ruling which was made by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, urged on by the undemocratic obstruction by the Prime Minister and other ULP Government members, to frustrate and undermine debate on a Motion of No Confidence in the ULP Government, which was tabled by the seven Opposition representatives in the House of Assembly of Assembly.

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