KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – When Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves got the “impulse” in Parliament on Jan. 11 that he should withdraw defamation cases against two opposition parliamentarians, that impulse did not extend to NICE Radio and talk show host Elwardo “E.G.” Lynch, against whom Gonsalves has also won defamation judgements.
Gonsalves told Parliament that in a tangible gesture towards national reconciliation, he would tell his lawyers to discontinue the cases in which he had won judgements against Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and West Kingstown representative Daniel Cummings.
The courts have ordered Lynch and NICE Radio to pay Gonsalves EC$250,000 each after Lynch said on NICE Radio eight years ago that Gonsalves used state funds to pay for his mother and daughter to visit the pope in Rome.
Gonsalves said at a press conference on Tuesday that Eustace, who has rejected Gonsalves’ offer to withdraw the case, makes it seems that the judgements against Lynch and NICE Radio was obtained “against the spirit of reconciliation”.
Eustace has said that he cannot accept Gonsalves’ offer while Gonsalves has judgements against Lynch and NICE Radio.
“I was about my business when I was defamed,” Gonsalves said.
“Let me just say this: Lynch knew that I did not pay for my mother and daughter you know. Because it turned out that they had something from somebody in the treasury …” Gonsalves said.
The leader, who came to office in March 2002, and who, when in opposition often spoke of “white angels” who leaked government information to him, said that as early as 2002, the “internal angels” for the opposition New Democratic Party had been working
“The ‘angels’ who doing the work for you there [are] not as powerful as those in heaven,” he said.
Gonsalves said that his mother was pleased with the visit to Rome where she met Pope John Paul II, whom she “revered”.
“… My mother said to me ‘Comrade, it’s the best present anybody had given me’; to take her to see the Pope,” Gonsalves said.
“Within two weeks [after the trip], she is hearing on the radio station that I took government money to pay for her and [my daughter] Isis,” Gonsalves further said.
He said that his mother asked him if it was true that he had used state funds to pay for her trip to Rome.
“I said, ‘Mom I paid for you. Don’t buy that.’ I said, ‘They will pay for their mouth’,” Gonsalves said.
He said that Lynch and NICE Radio did not apologised when asked. “It is only when the judgement came they says they would apologised. They say they would but they ain’t go and write me and say they [were] sorry. They ain’t go on top their radio station and say they [were] sorry,” Gonsalves said.
“Now, I didn’t get an impulse not to proceed with the one with Lynch and [NICE Radio Manager Douglas De Freitas]. … It doesn’t mean that I am not interested in reconciliation,” Gonsalves said.
He said that like Samuel in the Bible, he was spoken to by a voice.
“If I’m spoken to and I, as a servant, listen I will act in accordance with what I hear. But I am not a servant of Mr. Eustace; so I hear what he says. Speak Lord, your servant is listening. Mr. Eustace is not yet Lord and I am not his servant and that’s all I have to say on that matter,” Gonsalves said.
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