ST. VINCENT:– Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell has said he “went overboard” in saying he does not trust “even Jesus Christ” when it comes to general elections.
But while he retracted the statement, Sir James said in a press release this week that he would not retract what he said are my concerns about the election.
Sir James press release was to “clarify certain issues” surrounding his address at the political meeting in Enhams on Sept. 10, when he made the comments.
“We want them here to go and see what is happening with the Supervisor of Elections. I know that she is an honourable lady, a distinguished lady and so on; but I don’t trust even Jesus Christ when there [are] elections, until I see the results,” the retired politician had said then.
The comment came as he called for the immediate presence of international observers of the general elections, constitutionally due by next March.
“…I went overboard in emphasizing that I did not trust the electoral authorities,” Sir James’ said in the media release. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
He said he had planned to address four issues at the rally, including the closure of the St. George’s Medical College and its impact on the country and the immediate need for international observers to monitor the upcoming election.
Sir James had also planned to talk about the introduction of cocoa to revitalize the agricultural sector and the issue of the $5 million that Leader of the Opposition and NDP president Arnhim Eustace and Sir James are allegedly to have received from NDP consultants.
“In dealing with the second point, in seeking to drive home the issue about the importance of fairness in the electoral process, I went overboard in emphasizing that I did not trust the electoral authorities,” Sir James said.
“In this exaggeration, I made reference to Jesus Christ, which I wish to withdraw and apologize. I knew I had gone overboard, and tried to retrieve the message in my closing statement at the meeting, reaffirming our guidance from the Almighty. But this seems to have been not enough,” Sir James added.
“But let me go further and state that I will not retract what I said are my concerns about the election. I will not give my blessing to the work of the Supervisor of elections and the role of the authorities when they are already cheating in their selection of a candidate. We have to continue to pay meticulous attention to the manipulation of constituency boundaries which can so impact our democracy for a long time. Let me repeat, we need international observers for our election process now,” Sir James further said.
Sir James said that at the end of the meeting, Marcus De Freitas, a former minister under his NDP administration, pointed out the error, and “immediately I told him he had a point”.
He further said that the following day, he “raised the matter” with Eustace and Dr. Linton Lewis, the NDP’s candidate for East George, where the rally was held. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“I want to say that I remain simply a normal human being. I seek neither to be the conscience of this country nor claim any Godlike kinship. We have to be careful about mixing religion and politics, as extremists always take over the process. We are daily witnessing the big conflict in the world affecting all of us; the conflict between the major monotheistic religions. We in St. Vincent & the Grenadines must avoid that pitfall at all cost,” Sir James said.
He thanked his friends and members of the NDP “for their criticism and moral guidance”.
Sir James repeated Eustace’s statement that neither man had received $5 million, as Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and other members of his ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) had said.
“Let me repeat too that I received no such money. We are all engaged in raising funds to pay the consultants and other electoral expenses,” Sir James said.
“I said at the Enhams meeting that it is absolutely ridiculous for your employee to pay you for giving him a job. That propaganda about the five million is designed to sow confusion and mischief in our own ranks, to create conflict, and deflect from the real goal of all of us and our supporters in the NDP; that goal is the removal of the oppressive and unfair ULP regime,” Sir James added.
“Above all else, we must ensure that the economic destruction of our country by the ULP before our own eyes, over the last nine years remains the focal point in this election,” he further said.