TAIPEI, Taiwan: – The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) must find ways to punish both their ruling and opposition parties.
That was the message that socio-political group People’s Movement for Change (PMC) had for Vincentians in a televised address on Sunday.
The group’s General Secretary, Jomo Thomas, said the leaders of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) are “cynical and reckless” and their actions “represent a clear and present danger” to the country.
Vincentians should therefore begin to think and look beyond Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for leadership of the state.
But the Arnhim Eustace-led opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) “must not be allowed to point political fingers”.
“It stands accused and convicted for sabotaging the nation’s aspirations for constitutional change”.
Thomas said the failed constitution referendum last month was “an unjust war that caused many casualties”.
Vincentians last month responded to the NDP’s call and voted against a bill to reform the nation’s constitution.
Thomas said the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the NDP both delighted in the division the referendum caused.
The referendum vote came 15 months ahead of general elections, when the ULP will seek a third consecutive term in office.
NDP irresponsible, confused
Thomas said the NDP, looking for a political disadvantage, declared that the reform exercise “could become hostage to partisan, political concerns” as elections neared.
In 2007, the party withdrew from the reform process citing reasons completely unrelated to constitutional issues.
He said the NDP’s acts “signalled irresponsibility and confusion”.
The party refused to appoint a draftsperson to the constitutional drafting committee. It began its “Vote No” campaign before the drafting of the bill was completed.
However, the party took part in 11 sessions of the full House of Assembly that reviewed, debated and fine-tuned the bill. It then voted against it.
“These are actions of a calculating, narrowly partisan political entity positioning itself for an electoral contest,” Thomas said.
ULP’s political treason
But if the opposition committed a capital offense, “Gonsalves and his team are guilty of nothing short of political treason”, according to Thomas.
He said the ULP looks at all of SVG’s problems “in political rather than human terms”.
“For the ULP the first question it asks and attempts to answer is, ‘How can we survive and thrive?’
“Only then does this leadership look for the nation’s concerns and interest.”
Thomas said this modus operandi hamstrings SVG and makes it harder to advance the country.
According to him, the country would have been in a better position if the ULP “placed country above self and people before politics”, the PMC’s mantra.
The ULP leadership, Thomas said, cursed and fought with the opposition rather than fight for the unity was necessary if constitutional reform was to be successful
He said Gonsalves was prepared to deliver a constitutional reform package only on his own terms and wishes.
“This is why in the campaign for the yes vote he alienated many persons by saying, ‘This is my gift to you.’”
Thomas said in the constitutional reform process, Gonsalves’ “sins and errors” included the wastage of millions of scare resources.
Gonsalves also diverted the attention and efforts of the nation away from serious task of nation-building.
The PMC renewed its call for Gonsalves to resign from the Office of Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Your resignation will (also) make room for rebuilding,” Thomas said, quoting a letter send to Gonsalves on Dec. 2.
He said that citizens showed their disgust with the actions of politicians through the 600 spoilt ballots, twice the amount of the 2005 elections.
“They exercised their right to vote, but refused to allow either Gonsalves or Eustace to place them in their voter bank.”
Thomas said Vincentians recognize that the PMC early call for postponement of the referendum “was the only guarantee that could have saved the constitutional reform process”.
The group, launched in July 2008, reiterated that it was not “following a bandwagon set in motion by others with more immediate political motives”.
“[O]ur only desire is to place country above self and people before politics, Thomas said.
He said that in 2010, Vincentians can expect a renewed commitment from the PMC as it “unveil[s] a program for peace and goodwill intended to reunite our country”.