December 4, 2009

Eustace wants fresh elections soon

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has pressed on with calls for Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves to resign and for there to be fresh general elections soon.{{more}}

Eustace issued a statement earlier this week following the results of last week’s referendum.

“On November 25, the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines spoke eloquently and decisively at the over 200 polling stations in this land of ours,” a press release issued by the New Democratic Party (NDP) stated.

It also included that the public voted no to “the growing culture of dictatorship”, “victimization and fear”, “corruption and poor governance”, “poor economic management” and “lies”.

“Prime Minister Gonsalves, your mandate to guide the affairs of this country into the future lies in tatters at your feet,” Eustace included in the release.

This most recent call comes on the heels of a question put to Dr Gonsalves during an NDP press conference Monday, November 23 when Eustace asked Dr Gonsalves for a response to the source of large sums of United States’ currency which were changed at the state owned National Commercial Bank (NCB).

He was referring to a series of bank transactions which took place over a period of time.

“If the Prime Minister can’t answer, he must go!” Eustace contended at the November 23 press conference.

“The Prime Minister has not sought to answer, but he has to answer – the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines don’t want the reputation of this country to be tarnished.”

At a previous press conference, Eustace had stated that someone had tried to deposit US$1 million into the NCB, but was denied.

Following the NDP press conference, Dr Gonsalves told members of the press that the allegation was false.

However, according to the documentation shown, an amount of US$1 million had been deposited into the government’s account.

The documentation also showed a number of other transactions done by persons affiliated to the ruling political party and members of Dr Gonsalves’ family.

All the transactions occurred between October and the middle of November.

“When I last spoke, I indicated that a $1 million was not accepted by the Bank. (However), on November 2nd, not sure if it is another $1 million, but I know it is in the government’s account,” Eustace said.

“Where is this money coming from?” he questioned.

“The Prime Minister’s refusal to show that is to the detriment of this country and it is not in his best interest not to answer.”

Eustace also said that he wanted answers as to why was the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) not called in and if there had subsequently been an investigation into the matter.

“Where is the FIU and what are they doing?” Eustace questioned. “What is the source from which all these funds are coming?”

“These are very serious, serious issues. is the money coming from Venezuela? Let him talk. don’t allow people to speculate.”

Eustace further put out the question to the Prime Minister as to whether or not the funding came from drug dealers, money laundering or a foreign government.

“Dr Gonsalves must produce the information we are looking for or he must resign.”

But Dr Gonsalves fired back saying that the opposition has been in “total disarray” calling the accusations an act of desperation.

He added that he has nothing to hide and that he has responded to the opposition leader’s questions in the past.

“All this salacious gossip and sideshows, that’s how he wants to run government?” Dr Gonsalves reasoned at a later press conference.

The Prime Minister stopped short of responding to the opposition leader, but instead posed another question to him.

“Everybody gets money. is there any other way of changing money other than through the bank?”

Dr Gonsalves further stated that there was nothing unusual about persons keeping US currency in their possession.

He also ruled out any speculation that the FIU was in on any cover up.

“We are the ones who passed the Bill for the FIU,” Dr Gonsalves told members of the media.

“It is accepted as the best functioning intelligence unit in the Eastern Caribbean.”

“They are the best and he (Eustace) wants to drag down the work of the professionals?”

“His attempt to pull down the NCB will not succeed,” the Prime Minister said.