KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) will not encourage citizens to engage in illegal activities in protest against the government or state entities.
Leader of the Opposition and NDP president Arnhim Eustace made his position clear on radio yesterday.
He was responding to a caller who advocated damaging Central Water and Sewerage Authority distribution pipes in protest against the increase in water and solid waste management rates announced last week.
“If he is asking me whether the New Democratic Party is going to recommend to the public that they dig up the pipes, I will say no. I want to make myself clear on that,” Eustace said.
The former prime minister said that he understands the sentiments behind the callers comments.
“In a sense, those sentiments apply to a lot of other things. But I believe that we can take protest action of various types all within the framework of the law,” Eustace, however, stated.
“I am not going to go into 2000-2001. I think a lot of things that were done that time were not legal or right and I am not going to behave in the same manner,” he said of the Unity Labour Party (ULP)-led “roadblock revolution” that halved the life of the NDP’s fourth term in office and paved the way for the ULP’s election in March 2001.
“I believe that the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have a right to change their government. They were given that opportunity just about a year ago and they went in another direction, albeit with not much of a difference…” Eustace said.
The ULP was in December 2010 elected to a third consecutive term in office by a one-seat majority, winning eight parliamentary seats to the NDP’s seven.
“[b]ut we as a party have taken certain decisions in relation to the matter that are now outstanding and we will be taking different types of action, very shortly, actually, in terms of this action,” Eustace further said, seemingly in relation to a case that could see Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ election voided in addition to him being banned from Parliament for five years.
Eustace said that while everyone is entitled to their opinions, some citizens who are critical of the NDP do not respond when called upon to act.
“There are some legitimate actions you can take. I am prepared to take those actions. But I am also saying that a lot of people who in fact make these statements, when it comes to the time to take any action you don’t see them,” he said.
He spoke of a picket of the Office of the Minister of National Security – Dr. Ralph Gonsalves – to highlight escalating crime and violence late last year.
“I went down there, I just had to leave. The very proponents of it, who were on radio pushing it and so on, they weren’t even there,” Eustace said of the poorly attended event outside the Financial Complex.
“In fact, I was embarrassed by the situation. It is very easy to say you must do this and you must do that. Nobody has any concern about how you must finance it or anything; nobody! But they expect certain types of action but they are not prepared to participate in it,” he said.
“All I am saying, we have some things we have discussed internally and will implement them …” Eustace further stated.
One man was injured during an NDP protest last year when protestors also rammed the gate to the Parliament building.
The man sustained injuries to his leg when police reportedly pulled him onto spikes while trying to get him to come down from the gate to the Parliament compound.