December 3, 2010
PM says no to joint press conference with Eustace

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is not prepared to make a joint appeal for peace with Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace until Eustace has openly denounced the beating of three female Unity Labour Party (ULP) supporters in Chateaubelair by supporters of the New Democratic Party (NDP).{{more}}

According to the prime minister, he had made previous calls, including at last Sunday’s presentation of the ULP’s candidates at Victoria Park, for Eustace to openly speak out against the actions which transpired in the North Leeward community in the wee hours of the morning of November 20, when Kenlyn Michael, Stacia Burke and Yuclan Thompson were beaten by four male residents over the painting of party slogans on the main road.

However, in a press statement issued by the NDP on Monday, November 29, Eustace made a call for him and the prime minister to make a joint statement at a joint press conference to appeal for a peaceful, free and fair election.

“All they talking, speaking about is generally we should avoid violence, and in response to what I said last night, he (Eustace) wants today for us to have a joint press conference to denounce violence?”

“That’s the height of opportunism,” Gonsalves said.

“He wants to appear prime ministerial so some of the luster of the Comrade can rub off on him,” he continued.

“I have said previously that I cannot take Eustace’s position on those things seriously unless he specifically speaks out against the violence against the three young ladies in Chateaubelair.”

“What happen, the Super Don is so powerful that he (Eustace) can’t condemn the people who came from that block? Is that why?” Gonsalves questioned.

“I don’t understand the failure and or refusal, and you can’t come ask me to appear at a press conference with you when up to now, you have failed to denounce the acts of these NDP thugs in Chateau,” he told members of the media.

The Prime Minister contended that should Eustace do as requested, then there is no need for a joint press conference, or there may then be the basis for consideration to facilitate such an event.

“So, please, when you are engaged in your political opportunism, leave me out of that, and when you want to appear prime ministerial, you don’t have to sit next to the Comrade. Do that yourself,” Gonsalves said.

Despite the Prime Minister’s response, the Opposition Leader has made another call for a joint press conference in the name of peace.

A press statement issued by the NDP on Tuesday, November 30, said that the prime minister was “roundly condemned by observers who have described his apparent rejection of peace as ‘arrogant’, ‘unchristian’ and ‘a disgraceful example to our youth’.”

It also said that the Opposition Leader was stunned by the Prime Minister’s actions.

“I cannot believe or understand the Prime Minister’s thinking at this time. I offered him the chance to join me in the name of peace, for us both to cross the political divide in the name of peace. To set an example to our supporters and Vincentian youth.”

“How could he not want to do this? Is he seriously advocating unrest in our country?” Eustace questioned.

The Opposition Leader said the response was “outrageous” and descirbed the Prime Minister’s behaviour as “disgraceful.”

“If the Prime Minister isn’t prepared to perform his duties and set an example to the people, then perhaps he should consider his position,” Eustace said in the press release.

“With power comes responsibilty. In this case Prime Minister has been found woefully lacking; our society is built on Christian values. Prime Minister Gonsalves refers to himself as a strongly Christian man. Well I urge him to turn to the scriptures and find inspiration from Jesus Christ, who preached calm and love at every opportunity.”

“Our country desperately needs to remember its peaceful values at this tense time,” the release continued. (DD)