KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The formation of National Advisory Committee on Reconciliation here does not mean the abolition of “political competition” here, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament on Tuesday.
He made the point as he announced that a chair for the committee “has been named by Cabinet after quite a search for an appropriate persons”, but did not say who the person was.
“So that what was announced just over a year ago, it was an important policy goal: that we continue to work toward, reconciliation,” said Gonsalves, who also told lawmakers that Minister of National Reconciliation Maxwell Charles has submitted to and Cabinet had approved a document on national reconciliation, which would be “shortly circulated to all the relevant entities in the country”.
“Not that we are bringing to an end political competition. None of us wants to bring political competition to an end. Competitive democracy is important for the maintenance of political democracy, broadly – political participation in the political system and for the strengthening of individual rights and freedom,” said Gonsalves, who in January offered to withdraw as a tangible act of reconciliation two high court judgments against two opposition lawmakers.
“Indeed, political democracy is the other side of the coin relating to individual rights and liberties. But we need to conduct ourselves without bitterness and hatred and without intolerance. We can do so sharply but not divisively,” the Unity Labour Party leader said.
“I know that the journey is not an easy one. I simply hope and pray that we proceed to this goal. There will be, from time to time, setbacks. I say it is not an easy business but it is important we try, particularly in this difficult world, to not make enemies over issues over which we ought not to be making enemies. That we work as best as we possibly can in the interest of everybody in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to lift the quality of the life of our people,” Gonsalves further said.