Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne is said to have embraced opposition Leader Godwin Friday outside Parliament on Monday to show protesters that he is above partisan politics.
The nation’s ceremonial head of state is said to have made the move after being booed during the formalities to mark the ceremonial opening of Parliament ahead of the presentation of the budget.
Supporters of the main opposition New Democratic Party, which Friday heads, booed Sir Frederick during the playing of the National Anthem and as he inspected a guard of honour in the street outside the parliament building.
Protesters, mainly supporters of the NDP, had gathered behind police barricades outside the venue to express their displeasure with what they say is the Ralph Gonsalves government’s mismanagement of the economy among other national issues.
They also highlighted the treatment of former model Yugge Farrell who spent most of January in a psychiatric hospital after being charged with using abusive language to Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, wife of Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves.
Friday was asked at an NDP press conference in Kingstown to comment on what many saw as his supporters’ disrespect of the national anthem and of the governor general.
“When we came out of the Parliament we came down with the governor general — I don’t think he’d mind, because he said it and other persons heard, he said he would put his arm around me when we get downstairs so that the people would see the governor general don’t take sides and I welcome that.
“And, in fact, when he came out of the Parliament, he did that. He put his arm around me and I put my arm around him and we waved to the crowd.”
Friday said that the crowd did not boo at that point.
“If anybody the crowd was upset about, it’s Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP government. That’s who they were upset about. They may improperly vent against the governor general and so on but I think that people, on reflection, would say well, yes, this is not the way we conduct our democracy.”
Friday, however, asked who is the ULP to complain.
He said that while he was not in St. Vincent at the time, he had heard about supporters of Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party shaking the official vehicle of then governor general, Sir Charles Antrobus’ during the political unrest of 2000.
“We would never tolerate that on the NDP benches,” Friday said.
“Because the governor general is above that. When the motion of the no confidence is passed, we have to rely on the governor general to take his constitutional role and make decisions. After an election, we have to rely on our governor general. We have two petitions in the court right now, upon which the fate of this government rests.
“The governor general may well have a role to play in that. The governor general has to play a role above the fray of day-to-day politics and I respect that because I respect the Constitution of this country.
“I can’t say otherwise to that and stand up here and say I’m going to defend the right for us to bring a motion of no confidence. If you respect the constitution, you have to respect the entire constitution. What you don’t like and you want to change, when you change it, you can do otherwise. By, until that happens, you have to respect and obey the constitution,” Friday said.
I think you will find he was frightened and was using Friday as a human shield.
This is clearly a disgraceful conduct which should not be tolerated or encouraged. The Governor General is the Head of State, and should not be construed as the head of a political party. I was hoping to hear the opposition party make apologies regarding the distasteful behavior of its supporters.
However, as the oversight person, the GG should atleast offer some guidance to the government on how to conduct itself within the realms of the Constitution, and should work to ensure that the Constitution is not breached or wrongfully manipulated. I guess the NDP supporters feel that the GG has relinquish his oversight duties.
Wow…lawlessness the leader of the opposition should condem this disrespect towards the head of state.
Surely Kingsy baby, his advice on behaviour regarding the constitution should apply first to the ULP, in the diversion of a legally constituted constitutional vote of no confidence into a vote of confidence when there is no provision in the constitution to do so.
Two wrongs can never make a right. It was wrong to boo GG Ballantyne and it was also wrong to physically rock GG Antrobus car back in 2000.
But for PM Gonsalves to be the one speaking out against the NDP on this issue is laughable.
He, as leader of the ULP then never apologised to Sir Charles Antrobus.
Sir Charles was visibly shaken, when the supporters of the ULP took hold of the official vehicle he was leaving Parliament in, and rocked it as if to overturn it.
Come on Ralph, don’t be so shameless!
Didn’t you know that when Ralph does even far worse things that it is somehow justifiable, because it is Ralph doing them.
We gain independent from white racist British Britain in 1979.We do not need no puppet from England to come here making laws or telling us what to do.Black people in Svg should stop bow down to that puppet GG and his white masters who send him.
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