ST. VINCENT: – Leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Arnhim Eustace, is slated to hold a press conference at 2:30 pm (Eastern Caribbean Time) today, Thursday, Nov. 25, to talk about allegations of illegal registration in his East Kingstown constituency.
NDP public relations officer Vynnette Frederick said on radio Thursday morning that her party has evidence that Luke Browne, the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for the constituency and his family are involved in the illegal registration of voters.
Frederick first levelled the accusation as she and Browne, their respective party’s youngest candidate for the Dec. 13 general elections, appeared as guests on Hitz FM’s “As the Youth See It” Thursday morning.
“This morning, evidence coming to hand to the New Democratic Party has required me to speak immediately on a matter of fundamental importance to our democracy,” Frederick, a lawyer, said on Hitz FM.
She said the Brownes are “involved in a conspiracy to subvert justice and to rig the general elections in the constituency of East Kingstown”.
Frederick was saying “Now, the evidence…” before Browne interjected “… We have not come to the programme to discuss this”.
We are here to discuss development issues and if you want to give this information to the public, you find the appropriate forum…” Browne said.
The two politicians then engaged in some cross talk as the moderator tried to regain control of the programme.
He said that he would not allow his guests, which also included three other youth, to “go down the road of arguing”.
The moderator further asked the guests to keep the discussion “as civil as possible” even as Frederick asked him if it was the position of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Broadcasting Corporation (SVGBC), owners of Hitz FM, not to allow the NDP to issue the information to the public.
Frederick said it was the party’s “earliest opportunity to get the information out”.
As the crosstalk continued, the moderator took a five-minute break from the programme, during which time Frederick left the studio and went to Nice Radio and Hot 97, where she relayed the information in detail.
“…the apparent concerns raised a while ago demonstrate why young people stay away from this process from time to time,” Luke said after Frederick had left.
“Because we have an interest in registration and more and more people coming out and more and more people saying they want their voice to be heard. You know individuals tend to shift the framework of the debate for whatever reason they have…” he said.
Some callers said they were disappointed in Frederick course of action, with one female saying that if Frederick had stayed on the programme “she would have been portraying a better picture and being a bigger woman”.
Another female caller said she would have also left the studio “because he just come and want to run things”.
“You have to get it right. This programme is “As the Youth See It”. … This programme has nothing to do along any political lines,” the moderator said.
“We are not here to propose any political party. We are here to discuss youth issues that are affecting young people and we provided the opportunity for both of them to be able to discuss questions that these young people in the studio here have to ask and persons like you who would call in…
“We didn’t want to go down anything that is going to be detrimental to our programme that the station itself is going to be liable for statements that are being made without necessary facts being proven,” the moderator further said.
“We do not have a lawyer sitting here with us this morning to defend this,” he added.
“The ironic thing is that we talk about people participating and people voting where. Why don’t we talk about why people should vote for the Unity Labour Party and why people should vote for the New Democratic Party? That is what is fundamental to Vincentians,” Browne added.
“At the end of the day, I have spoken to the issue, I have said as much as I think is appropriate for this forum and if there is the further need to make statements in relation to what has been raised here this morning in an appropriate manner, then I am prepared to make those statements,” Browne said.
“Because what I am telling you right now, there are attempts by the opposition to frustrate the registration exercise in East Kingstown upon the suspicion that anyone going to register supports Luke. And that is unfortunate and when I talk about the intimidation, and when I talk about people trembling by the time they reach the registering office, that is what concerns the youth. Because when you have that kind of intimidation, it is an attempt to stifle them and to stifle their voice,” Browne said.
Both Browne and Frederick are contesting general elections for the first time. Frederick will represent the NDP Is West St. George.