St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has accused external forces of attempting to destabilize the islands.
Gonsalves was sworn in for a third consecutive term last week after his United Labour Party (ULP) won eight of the 15 parliamentary seats, down from the 12 seats the party held in the last two parliaments. The New Democratic Party (NDP) clinched the remaining seven, receiving 48.18 per cent of the votes compared to the ULP’s 51.25 per cent. The Green Party received 145 votes.
“It is the narrowest of the three victories, but it is the sweetest because of the campaign waged against my party and against me personally,” said Gonsalves. “For 10 years, there has been a campaign of personal vilification, of falsehood, of innuendo, of scurrility, there have been concocted stories and a bitterness generated which is unprecedented in our politics,” he said.
“We have had to confront a highly skilled outfit from Britain which was extremely well-financed and in several constituencies there was substantial domestic financing for the NDP…”
Gonsalves refuted NDP leader and former PM Eustace Arnhim’s claim that the elections were not free and fair.
“As far as I know, the elections are over and there is a government,” he said. “I will continue, as Prime Minister, to reach out. But, in reaching out, let the leaders of the NDP be under no mistake that they lost the elections and they do not own this country or any part of it. We all do so. And, if it’s necessary for me to appeal over their heads directly to their own supporters, I will do so.”
Gonsalves, the North Central Windward constituency leader, also pledged to assist residents affected by Hurricane Tomas which left a trail of destruction.
The Category One hurricane slammed into the island on October 28 causing millions of dollars in damages to crops, homes and other properties.
“I give the assurance as I gave at the very beginning of the striking of Tomas that we will take care of all of our people,” he said. “There will be no discrimination whatsoever on political or any other grounds in respect of fixing people’s houses and providing for them in every material way.”
Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne congratulated Gonsalves on his election victory and urged the multi-islands political leaders to work in the best interest of the country.
“Suffice to say that the elections are now over and our challenge is to unite the country,” he said. “From the elections, I think we all can say that democracy is alive and well in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. There might be election petitions but we are a nation of laws and if there are (petitions), the court will have to deal with them and we will have to be guided by the orders given from the courts of law.”
History was made last week when Education Minister Girlyn Miguel was sworn in as the islands’ first deputy Prime Minister.