January 22, 2010
NDP protests outside House of Assembly

Protesters, mainly supporters of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), were quite vocal as they chanted anti-government slogans outside the House of Assembly this week.{{more}}

And from all indications, it is clear that they were just warming up as they promised to be back in full force next Monday to continue their picketing throughout the 2010 budget debate.

On Tuesday, January 19, 2010, yellow-clad NDP faithful, including persons who had served as ministers under the Sir James Mitchell administration, lined the street outside the Kingstown Vegetable Market to express their dissatisfaction with the performance of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and members of his administration. Several of the protestors also held large placards.

At one point, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace took a break from the presentation of the Estimates for the fiscal year 2010, and greeted his supporters, who warmly welcomed him.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, a veteran protestor who brought down the NDP administration in 2000 with a series of protests, did likewise during the lunch break and visited the throng, who cursed and booed him.

Surrounded by a few of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) supporters who were prepared to defend their leader, Gonsalves smiled, examined the crowd, then was quickly whisked away by members of his security team.

The protesters also returned on Wednesday.

Public Relations Officer of the NDP Vynnette Fredrick said that the picketing was intended to raise awareness of social and economic issues that were not consistent with what was being discussed by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“This picket really reflects the will of the people. So whatever the Comrade and his colleagues are articulating on the inside, on the ground is where the pulse of the people is.”

According to Junior Bacchus, host of the Stay Awake radio programme, a number of the show’s listeners turned up in support of the picket to show their disdain of three key topics which he has been voicing his opinion on for a number of weeks.

“These issues have to do with the US $1 million that was deposited into the Accountant General’s account,” Bacchus explained.

“It also has to do with the several deposits made by the wife of the Prime Minister, his daughter, his son and other members of the ULP’s top brass to the NCB in a short period.

“The second particular issue has to do with the four million that was used from the Treasury to promote a Yes Vote.The third issue on this matter has to do with Camillo Gonsalves’ appointment while he was in the position of Crown Counsel,” said Bacchus.

A former ULP supporter, Bacchus indicated that he had in his possession a copy of the younger Gonsalves’ appointment letter for the post of Crown Counsel in 2005, which spells out ‘certain kinds of compensation and allowances’, which Bacchus frowned upon.

Bacchus said that the picket was an attempt to reinforce the message to the public and the international community that the country’s financial status was on the road to decay.

Meanwhile, Frederick indicated that this and next week’s pickets were just the first of a number of innovations that the NDP has planned for this year.

She said that there were other events that over time will be revealed.

“The government, we feel, is definitely a lame duck government. The people have resoundingly rejected whatever their proposal is and if you look closely at what happened at the referendum, it was more about the issues that mattered to the people, said Frederick”