ST. VINCENT: – At least two members of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ family have become speaking points as the campaign for the Dec. 13 general elections moves into the final week.
In an unprecedented public utterance about politics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Eloise Gonsalves, wife of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, appeared in a video asking Vincentians to “punish” the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) when they vote.
The video was uploaded to the VOTEULP channel on YouTube on Dec. 2 and circulated to the party’s mailing list on Monday.
On Monday, the NDP also issued a press release questioning why Gonsalves’ youngest son, Storm Gonsalves, 19, is registered to vote in East Kingstown, rather than West Kingstown where the Official Residence of the Prime Minister is situation at Old Montrose.
Storm, who left St. Vincent to study in England sometime this past summer, was living with his parents at the Old Montrose, West Kingstown residence since 2004.
Mr Gonsalves is political leader of the ULP, which is seeking a third consecutive term in office, against a formidable challenge by the NDP, political observers say.
Mrs Gonsalves, appeared to be reading from a script in the 90 second video in which she said she has been “happily married” for 21 years to the prime minister, who came to office in March 2001.
The marriage, Mr Gonsalves’ second, has produced three children: Isis, Storm, and Soleil.
“The Ralph I know is a kind, loving and committed husband and father. He is a good, honest and Christian man. He is committed to me and our family. And, I love him very much. And, he loves you,” Mrs Gonsalves said.
She said her husband, a lawyer, “cares so much for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“He cares so much for the poorest among us. He has devoted his life to creating opportunities and uplifting our people,” she further said.
“I am saddened and disgusted by the NDP’s vicious lies about my husband. I ask you, the mothers, wives and grandmothers of St. Vincent, how would you feel if a group of power hungry men spread vicious lies about the man who has been such a loving husband and father to you and your children?” Mrs Gonsalves said without saying what the lies were.
“I hope you will punish these men for their wickedness by casting your vote solidly for the ULP on December the 13th,” she said.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had slammed NDP president and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace when, in the lead up to the elections of Dec.7, 2005, the NDP played at a rally in Victoria Park, Kingstown, a video of Eustace’s son making a case for his re-election.
Gonsalves had then said that the testimonial was not enough to save Eustace from defeat and use an expression in dialect that translates, “The child cannot save his father.”
The NDP, in its press release on Monday, noted that Storm Gonsalves’ name appears on the newly registered list for East Kingstown.
The party further noted that the lad’s name appeared as a depositor of US dollars into the National Commercial Bank (NCB) within days of the US$1 million (EC$2.7 million) in cash deposit to the Accountant General without explanation.
“Surely Gonsalves must answer why his son, who is not in state, and who, when he was in state lived with his father in West Kingstown, appears on the East Kingstown list today,” the NDP said.
But Prime Minister Gonsalves, speaking at a campaign event Monday night, said that his son lived most of his years at Frenches, East Kingstown, where there family home is located.
He noted that they moved to the West Kingstown Official Residence in 2004.
“But up there is not his home. So when time came for him to be registered, he registered at the place where he considers being his home, which is Frenches,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves said he believes that if the NDP were to challenge the registration in court, based on his understanding of the law, “the court … will uphold his registration”.
“Well, the point is this: I did not know whether or not Storm was going to come back from England where he is studying to vote. But, since they want to make an issue of him, I will bring him back to vote as he is registered,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that first time candidate Luke Browne, the national and Rhode Island scholar, who is the ULP’s candidate for East Kingstown, will defeat Eustace, an economist who has been representing the constituency since 1998.