ST. VINCENT:- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said that no amount of pressure from the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) can bring down his government, which won the general elections last week by a single seat.
Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) retained eight of the 15 parliamentary seats and NDP leader Arnhim Eustace said last week that opposition legislators will pressurize the government and bring it to its knees in one year.
“We will control the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines until such time as elections are held… Expect from the New Democratic Party a very aggressive approach to dealing with the business of the country because we … want a one-year term for the ULP,” Eustace told party supporters.
Gonsalves responded to Eustace on Sunday, Dec. 19, during the swearing-in of Cabinet members in Layou.
“Let me make it plain: I am completely immune to any pressure from the NDP. I say, not boastfully but factually, that I am an ancient warrior who withstood successfully NDP pressure when I was in the opposition and I have done so successfully, too, since I am Prime Minister,” Gonsalves said.
“Neither the NDP nor their puppet masters scare me. I relish fighting the forces of evil and backwardness. The ULP and I will defeat them every time,” he further said, adding, “Clearly, in this period, the NDP had chosen the path of heightened confrontation.”
Gonsalves said the NDP had “rejected unceremoniously” the “hand of friendship” he has offered several times since the vote.
“I shall continue to seek friendship, cooperation, reconciliation and national unity. If the NDP leadership refuses to be an aid in this noble exercise, I shall nevertheless proceed to intensify the push towards national unity and reconciliation,” he said.
Eustace has said that the polls last week, in which he led his party to a third straight defeat, were flawed.
“Of course, Arnhim Eustace is well-known for ridiculous statements which confuse him and his supporters,” Gonsalves said.
He noted that Eustace has said the ULP administration, which came to office in March 2001, would not have survived to its first budget that December.
“When that event occurred without hiccups, he gratuitously extended the life of my government singlehandedly for another year,” Gonsalves said.
“[It] seems as though he has it somewhere in his head that he can extend or reduce the lives of governments. It’s really a strange kind of working of a man’s mind,” he said.
Gonsalves said the opposition “upped the ante” in 2002 when their predictions “inevitably failed” and Eustace’s “false prophecy [was] mocked”.
“They concluded that the ULP and I would only last one term. I was thus derided as ‘one-term Papa’.
“So, when the ULP was returned to office in December 2005, the NDP leadership had no option but to cry foul, in an attempt to save face.”
Gonsalves said that the party’s promise of election petitions and criminal prosecutions for alleged election offences did none materialize.
“They misled their supporters then, and they are doing it now,” he said.