Our Readers' Opinions
February 9, 2016
Statement by Christian Council – February 2016

‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.’

‘Whate’er the future brings, our faith will see us through.’

Both hymn and National Anthem inspire as we face the challenges of a post-election St Vincent and the Grenadines, and more so, as we strive to face our national concerns together. We must know and acknowledge that we are all responsible for all, and all of us share in each other’s lot (1 Cor 12:26 – ‘If one part is hurt, all parts hurt with it.{{more}} If one part is given special honour, all parts enjoy it’). It is in this consciousness that we are all responsible for all and that we share in each other’s lot that we of the SVG Christian Council urge all Vincentians to take hold of the solidarity which unites us as one people under the sun, and likewise transcends the experiences of race, sex, political party, religion and their other insidious forms which we continue to suffer and which made themselves manifest during the December 2015 elections.

The Council continues to be concerned about the political tension which prevails in the aftermath of the general elections. This concern was initially communicated to the leaders of both political parties and the supervisor of the elections shortly after the elections. On those occasions we appealed to both leaders to exercise wisdom, discretion and sound judgment in the leadership they offer their supporters. In our meeting with the PM on the morning of the swearing in (December 14th), we responded to the appeal he had made for supporters to attend in party colours and indicated that such could only contribute to further aggravation of the situation and the polarizing of persons at what is a national event. Out of this, though a late intervention, a press release was issued by the PM discouraging attending in party colours.

In more recent weeks, we have so far met with the PM and the Commissioner of Police. Our meeting with the Commissioner allowed us to appreciate the complexity of their functioning in such a volatile situation. We reiterated the need to continually exercise discretion and wisdom, even as they strive towards preserving law and order. We recommended a meeting of various civil society representatives to establish and delineate a way forward that is respectful and beneficial to all. Pending is a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition.

As we have observed the developments thus far, we appreciate that conflict and disagreement are normal in human experience. However, how conflict is managed and/or resolved is a significant test of our maturity as a people and our development as a nation. To this end, we reiterate our commendation to the PM to be careful to remember that having been sworn in as PM translates PM for all and has a responsibility also to those who are aggrieved. We appeal in the strongest way to those who protest and to all who share various views to do so respectfully and without demeaning another. We commend the Opposition Leader for the commitment to peaceful protest he expressed in his meeting with us and encourage him to make every effort to preserve the integrity of this commitment.

For those, then, who may be tempted to hurl insults, curse or provoke the supervisor of elections, we encourage you to avoid such and preserve the dignity of your protest. We appeal to all to recognize that there will continue to be disagreements regarding this matter of the 2015 results, as well as other issues which affect us as a nation. In many instances there are systems and institutions to address these disputes; where such exist, this option should be properly exhausted first before alternative methods are explored. We appeal for mature and responsible use of information, for truth and for integrity. Many of our conflicts are informed or exasperated by the irresponsible use of or manipulation of information. This will never augur well for our society and serve for the most part a self-interest which fails to value and consider the other in love.

May we proceed in this current situation as stewards of our nation and of a democracy that leaves a noble and mature legacy for generations to come.

With words again from our anthem, let us all commit again to work for freedom, justice and peace in our beloved nation.

Saint Vincent, Land so beautiful,

With joyful hearts we pledge to thee

Our loyalty and love and vow

To keep you ever free.