ST. VINCENT (Feb. 28):- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has defended his government’s receipt of aid monies from Libya last week even as citizens of that African nation protested against Muammar al-Gaddafi and his 42-year-old government.
Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace last Thursday, Feb. 24, described as “blood money” the EC$667,500 (US$250,000) the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) in Kingstown received from Libya’s ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Ammat Ali last Monday, Feb. 21.
The funds are to aid with rebuilding the country after the damage wrought by Hurricane Tomas last year.
Eustace told supporters of his New Democratic Party that Gonsalves should say what was the position of his Unity Labour Party administration as the Gaddafi government staged a bloody crackdown against citizens protesting against his regime, which came to power during a 1969 coup.
Gonsalves told reporters on Monday, Feb. 28, that the funds were in the works even before the protest began on Feb. 15.
He said that his government had solicited aid from several nations after Hurricane Tomas, which ravaged the agricultural sector and damaged 1,200 houses.
Libya was among the nations that agreed to assist, Gonsalves said, adding that the protest began before the funds could be transferred from Tripoli to Kingstown.
He further said that the cheque was made out to the HLDC and was received by public servants.
“How in heavens name that became blood money, I don’t understand. Did anybody kill for it?” he said.