Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Arnhim Eustace, on Wednesday called on party supporters to have a “reflective” Christmas and to prepare to hit the protest line on Tuesday as the party continues with its claim that the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) “stole” the Dec. 9 general elections.
“The struggle is about the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines — we the people. This struggle is about restoring integrity in our land,” he said in a simultaneous national address broadcast on radio and television.
“This struggle is about sending the right message to our youth. This is a battle for the soul of the nation and the fight to save our collective conscience. One thing we accept is that undeniable fact that a people united can never be defeated,” said Eustace, who on Dec. 9 led the NDP to its fourth consecutive electoral defeat, according to official results.
Electoral officials say that the ULP won eight of the 15 seats in the Parliament and had been returned to a fourth consecutive term in office.
The remaining seats when to the NDP, according to the official result, but the party is claiming that it also won the Central Leeward Constituency, and is the legitimate government.
The NDP has gone to court over the matter and is seeking access to certain electoral documents, ahead of election petitions it says will be filed next week.
In his address Wednesday night, Eustace noted the Christian meaning of Christmas before swiftly moving to politics.
He said that with each challenge faced as a community and as individuals, “we must pause to ask ourselves ‘what would Jesus do?’ hence our singular commitment to democracy and fair play.
“Our continued commitment to live in a society that lives by its rules must guide our actions in the upcoming days, weeks and, perhaps, months with regards to the December 9 elections.”
Eustace reiterated that the NDP is “not wavering on this issue” of the Central Leeward seat.
“This on-going injustice must be challenged on many fronts. And this injustice of which be must speak must not be a concern only to members and supporters of the NDP but to all conscientious Vincentians who understand the dignity and the desirability of fair paly.”
Eustace said that his call, as leader of the NDP and a proud Vincentian, is for “the development of a broad-based coalition, a new movement of rich and poor, the young and the old to ensure that good governance reigns in this proud nation.
“Leaders must emerge from our communities, particularly our young people to be part of the leadership of this fight. And so, right after our pause for the observance of Christmas, we the people, must march forward together as one united Vincentian family.”
He said that in the coming days the NDP is coming together with people from all walks of life “to send a clear message to this so-called Unity Labour Party government, that we will not, and shall not accept any attempt to subvert the expression of the will of the people.”
Eustace noted the legal proceedings underway in the nation’s court, especially as they related to the election results in Central Leeward.
“A team of lawyers, working for we the people, spent the entire day in court on Tuesday fighting our cause.”
He said the legal team will continue to do their work over the holidays and return to court on Monday.
“We are fighting diligently for transparency and accountability as related to the vote. The Electoral Office, on the one hand, claiming to have administered over a free and fair election, is fighting nonetheless to ensure that there is no disclosure.”
Eustace said that the NDP wants the opportunity to inspect, among other things, the ballots that were cast in Central Leeward.
“They are fighting to deny us this request. And we have both made our cases. We wait on the ruling of the judge.”
He said the court hearings are a prelude to the formal petition that the NDP will file after the holidays.
“So understand that even while we celebrate Christmas, the fight is on-going.
“It is important to note in this matter, that while the people have donated to our cause, this illegal government is using the public purse to retain expensive lawyers in this fight against the will of the people.”
Eustace said that while the “so-called government” will hear from the NDP in the courts, they must also hear from “we the people in the streets”.
The NDP has held protest action outside the Electoral Office in Kingstown since the elections but called off its demonstration until after the Christmas observances.
However, NDP activist Robert “Patches” Knights and a small group of protester have continued the protest action geared primarily at Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay, who has defended herself and her officer against accusations of wrongdoings in the poll.
While King has mainly confined himself to issues surrounding the vote, other persons near the protest area have been insulting and abusive in a personal manner of the elections chief, including on Wednesday as she locked up for the day, while an armed police officer provided security.
Eustace did not refer to any person in particular in his address on Wednesday when he said the NDP has “leaders throughout the community mobilising the people as we speak.
“And many of them will be in touch with you within the next few hours and days about what responsible actions we must take to ensure that this illegitimate government give account of its actions,” he further said in his address.
“Let the message go out that our reservations about these elections stand, that we continue to refuse to accept the results, and that we will continue to fight against this injustice on many fronts.
“The resolve of we the people must be absolutely clear in this matter,” Eustace said.