Vincentians say no to proposed constitution
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November 27, 2009

Vincentians say no to proposed constitution


The way Arnhim Eustace was mobbed as he approached the Sion Hill intersection in the wee hours of Thursday morning, you would have believed he had just won General Elections.{{more}}

In fact, the Opposition Leader indicated that this was one of the issues that he and the New Democratic Party would be pushing heavily towards, after a resounding win in Wednesday’s constitution referendum vote.

“He (Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves) has the power to call elections,” Eustace stated. “But we will be pressing him.”

“Elections are harder, but think for instance: if we were to convert this vote tonight into seats, we would have won 13 seats.”

In an exclusive interview with Searchlight earlier in the night, as he and a number of supporters left NDP Headquarters in Richmond Hill for a spontaneous trip around Kingstown, Eustace said that “the people have spoken”.

The motorcade grew as more vehicles, trucks included, travelled triumphantly along, honking horns and shouting slogans such as ‘NO’, ‘TELL RALPH NO’ and ‘HELL NO’ at the top of their voices.

What was to be one lap around town, snaked its way up to Redemption Sharpes, through Kingstown Park, Paul’s Avenue to Sion Hill, Walvaroo, Arnos Vale, into Calliaqua and back to Sion Hill for a rousing reception, where close to a thousand persons had gathered.

In his vehicle during the motorcade, Eustace said that although he was not surprised with the victory, he was not expecting the percentages that they received.

“I always thought we had a very good chance of coming up to this level. I couldn’t see how it was possible for the ULP (Unity Labour Party) to get 67 per cent. Even when the NDP won all 15 seats (back in 1989) they didn’t get that much; but the extent of the No Vote in some areas were very, very high.”

He referred to the 61 per cent garnered in his East Kingstown Constituency, 64 per cent in Central Kingstown, 69 per cent in the Northern Grenadines and 85 per cent in the Southern Grenadines.

Despite this, Eustace was firm that he was not going to be deceived by the numbers.

Eustace also acknowledged the general consensus that most voters did not cast their ballots solely on matters pertaining to the constitution, but rather on matters that were affecting their daily lives.

He said that was because both parties took the route of election style campaigns since the referendum was taking place in a climate where persons were expecting and looking forward to general elections.

“I think people are fed up with some of the issues facing the country, not just the constitution,” he opined.

“The constitution is just one issue. But people’s lives are badly affected right now in terms of their income, their employment and so on.

“They are looking at their families, their health; all those things people are thinking about and they have sent a message to the government.

“Apart from that, we’ll be dealing particularly with the state of the economy and what we see is increasing corruption in this country. These are the things we will be dealing with as we go forward.

“I told the Prime Minister… it is wrong to have a referendum at a time when we are approaching general elections, and he said we trying to delay the process; he’s going ahead.”

Both men would now go down in history as the winner and loser of what may be the only opportunity to realise constitutional reform here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a long time.

Eustace indicated that when the NDP takes control of Parliament — which many of his supporters predict will be in the near future — an attempt will be made to address constitutional reform in a manner that would be supported by the majority of Vincentians.

He said he does not expect Gonsalves to return to the process.

Eustace indicated that many persons were to be thanked for Wednesday’s victory, and this would be done officially in due time, but in the meantime: “We are going to continue our business as usual.”