ST. VINCENT:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) may soon be regretting their “Keep the fire burning” election mantra.
Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace has warned that opposition legislators will do just that when the new Parliament convenes in January.
On Monday, the ULP won a third consecutive five-year term with a one-seat majority in the 15-member Parliament. It lost four of the seats it held since 2001.
“When we get into that Parliament, we will be giving them fire,” Eustace told NDP supporters at a rally in Kingstown Thursday night.
“When I say fire, we are going to keep the fire at their feet everyday in the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They say ‘Keep the fire burning’; we will keep that fire burning,” Eustace said.
Eustace, who has led the NDP to three consecutive defeats, said that his party was robbed of an election victory.
He also said that NDP Members of Parliament “have a better understanding … of what is happening to our economy and our country than that bunch of jokers that is going in there”.
Eustace, an economist, is awaiting the budget in January to show up the government legislators.
“All those new ones who gone in there, I am waiting to see how they are going to debate the budget,” the former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said.
He spoke of the psychological rigours of being in a small opposition during the last two terms.
“It will be 12 one that side and nine on this side and this nine here is going to give endless trouble in the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
“We will control the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines until such time as elections are held…”
Eustace said that the opposition will pressure the government, forcing it to return to the polls in one year.
“Expect from the New Democratic Party a very aggressive approach to dealing with the business of the country because we want to ensure that they don’t run [a] five-year term here. We want a one-year term for the ULP,” he said.
“…we will bring that government down and have free and fresh elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. … One year of constant pressure from the New Democratic Party will bring them down.
“…I know that as we hold them and squeeze them and increase the pressure, they will have to buckle. And, when they buckle, we will push them down and we will ensure that the New Democratic Party takes over the reign of power and office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in order to bring a brighter future, a brighter dawn for all the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Gonsalves is a weakened man today with a number of people with him in Parliament who will not be able to deal with the issues in the Parliament of St. Vincent, which affect the lives of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Eustace said.
Eustace, who has represented East Kingstown since 1998 and has increased his margin of victory every time since then, said he is the NDP’s Rock of Gibraltar on mainland St. Vincent.
“I am very grateful for that support and the confidence that has been shown in me by the people of East Kingstown,” he said.
He further said he was “happy to see those smiling faces” of the NDP supporters who came out “to celebrate what really was an NDP Victory”.
“We came very close to forming the government and it will not be very long before we do form that government,” he told party supporters.
Gonsalves was on Wednesday sworn in as Prime Minister for a third time, Girlyn Miguel and Judith Jones Morgan took the oaths as Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General respectively. The remainder of the Cabinet will be sworn in at Layou on Saturday.