PM tells ULP supporters  to stand down today
February 8, 2011
PM tells ULP supporters to stand down today

Unity Labour Party (ULP) supporters have been asked to back down from staging pro-Government support on the streets of Kingstown today.{{more}}

Political Leader of the ULP and Prime Minister of St.Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves issued the appeal to a large gathering of party faithful at a political rally at Biabou, last Sunday evening.

Gonsalves said he understands that the ULP supporters are “charged up” and are ready to show support for their Government, but two recent developments prompted him to ask them not to take to the picket line.

He said he was asked by some lawyers to send the proposed amendments to the Representation of the People Act to a Select Committee. The proposed amendments have been fueling controversy recently and are one of the reasons for the opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) decision to stage a major protest outside the House of Assembly today – the second in the past two weeks.

Gonsalves said his appeal was also made because of the Princess Cruise Line’s impending visit to St.Vincent and the Grenadines today, with 3,000 visitors.

“You all are charged up and you all want to come down on Tuesday, but I want you to listen to your leaders: Don’t come down on Tuesday; another day you go come down to show support for your Government. Another day we will have you come down to show support for your government, just like you are showing support tonight in your very large numbers, in your thousands to support for your government,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister declared that he has a responsibility to protect the tourist industry.

“I don’t want us to be in town and the NDP supporters in town and the tourists them want to walk out,” said Gonsalves.

He added: “The taxi men them have to make a dollar, the minibus men them have to make a dollar, the restaurants have to make a dollar, the vendors have to make a dollar, the craftsmen and women have to make a dollar, the tour guides have to make a dollar. So, I don’t want the Princess Cruise to say that they came to St.Vincent and they had to stay at the ship and turn back because of protest.”

Gonsalves told the crowd, though he is aware that they were anticipating turning out in large numbers, he does not want them to take to the streets on Tuesday.

“If the NDP want to protest the Parliament even though it is not going to keep …if the NDP want to go down and frighten the tourists them on the day, that’s their business,” said Gonsalves.

Gonsalves said in the event that Parliament is called today, it would be for a short sitting to name the members of the Select Committee.

He touched on the area of the NDP’s request to parents to keep their children at home today. Gonsalves said, in any case, the NDP has a history of keeping children away from school, because they did not have universal secondary education under that regime. He said in 2001, when the ULP took office, there were just over 7,000 students at secondary schools or 39 per cent of students who would have attained the age to attend secondary school.

“Any day they ask you to keep your children away, you say ‘education is the key to the future and I will send my children to school’,” said Gonsalves.

He said the NDP is also calling on businesses to close, but any businessman or woman who closes his or her supermarket or his or her store has become a politician.

He reiterated the issues that prompted the Government to amend the Criminal Procedure Code of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, in relation to private criminal complaints.

The rally was attended by Kenny Anthony, former Prime Minister of St. Lucia.