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600 ap libya protest 110228
Anti-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi protesters wave the old Libyan flag as they celebrate the freedom of the Libyan city of Benghazi, Libya, on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. (AP / Hussein Malla)

ST. VINCENT (Feb. 28):- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said that the uprising against the Muammar al-Gaddafi regime in Libya is no reason for St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to break relations with that north African nation.

On Feb. 15, Libyans began protesting against Gaddafi and his regime, which came to office in a 1969 coup.

Gadhafi remains defiant and has given no indication of stepping down.

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His regime has used military force against the population in a bloody crackdown that has left hundreds of civilians dead.

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Gonsalves said during a press briefing on Monday, Feb. 28, that there was no reason for Kingstown to cut diplomatic ties with Tripoli as some sections of the Vincentian population have suggested.

He said that his administration did not break relations with Egypt, where protest action, which began on Jan. 25, forced from office the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The Housing and Land Development Corporation in Kingstown last Monday received from Tripoli, for hurricane recovery, EC$667,500 (US$250,000), which the main opposition New Democratic Party has described as “blood money”.

Gonsalves said the hurricane aid funds were secured long before the uprising began.

He further said that the United States and Britain have not severed links with Libya although the Americans have frozen the assets of Gaddafi and his family and British Petroleum have strong business links with the country.

“They (Gaddafi and his family) don’t have any assets here,” he added.

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Gonsalves said that while his administration is concerned about the developments in Libya, with which Kingstown has warm relations, his government was also in communication with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as CARICOM prepared to issue a joint statement on behalf of the member states of the regional bloc.

“I look at the unfolding events … in Libya with more than great disquiet. No one can support the killing of innocent protestors,” he said.

“You have in Libya what is evolving as a virtual civil war and we in CARICOM, and certainly we in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we said let us work together as one on this. … I know we (CARICOM) were all moving on the same page to issue a condemnatory statement in the way in which it has been issued,” Gonsalves added.

CARICOM leaders at their just concluded summit in Grenada called for peace in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of a wave of anti-regime uprising sweeping the Arab world.

“The Community calls for an immediate end to the violence and looks forward to a resolution of the situation through dialogue and actions which would allow the free exercise of the fundamental human rights by the people of that Region,” the leaders said in a statement.

Regional heads said they have observed with grave concern, the recent developments which have been sparked by the desire of the people of that Region for change.

“Very often in international relations, there are some black and white positions which are taken and sometimes there are greater subtleties and shades which have to be accommodated,” Gonsalves said.

He further said that his government is in daily contact with its ambassador to the United Nations as it monitors the developments in North Africa.

“…we are an enemy of nobody and we are friends of everybody. That is how we seek to use our foreign policy to enhance our capacity to deal more capably with our external environment in the interest of our people — but to do so against the backdrop and upon the platform of the principles laid out by the Charter of the United Nations and our respect for democracy, independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty, human rights,” Gonsalves said.

He added that a violation of these principles by a state does not mean that St. Vincent and the Grenadines should not have relations with that government.