By C ben-David

No justice, no peace!” (Godwin Friday, Leader of the Opposition New Democratic Party [NDP], Searchlight newspaper, March 22, 2019, p. 4).

***

This street exhortation from Friday immediately following the NDP’s March 21 election petitions loss is yet another sign that this once mighty and respected party is still trying to cut down its own breadfruit tree, an exercise it has been busily engaged in since 2001.

Friday’s rallying cry was met by the physical assault of the Commissioner of Police, Colin John, as reported in the media (Searchlight newspaper, March 22, p. 4). The intent, no doubt, was to illicit an even more violent response from the constabulary, some of whom were also violently attacked, but who were surely briefed to accept some licks rather than provoke a politically expedient charge of police brutality culminating in a regime-changing “Roadblock Revolution” against the Unity Labour Party (ULP).

The Ralph Gonsalves government cannot be so easily fooled.

Notwithstanding the rejection of his decision by the NDP leadership and presumably the bulk of the party’s supporters, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Justice Stanley John’s detailed and learned decision, grounded in our 1982 Representative of the People Act and supported by a plethora of legal opinion derived from similar election petition cases from around the world, concluded that:

At the core of the statutory provisions governing the conduct of Parliamentary elections in SVG is the intent of Parliament to ensure that the democratic will of the electors prevail. That the candidate representing the choice of the majority will of the electors prevails…. The [election petition] cases have all clearly established that the Courts will strive to uphold an election as being substantially in accordance with the law, even where there have been serious breaches of the Rules, or of the duties of the election officials provided that the results of the election was unaffected by those breaches…. The Court holds that the breaches which took place during the General Election in the constituencies of Central Leeward and North Windward did not affect the result of the election from a qualitative or quantitative perspective.

But the NDP holds no brief for such trivialities as election law or legal precedence. “Pass the axe and let’s have another whack at our breadfruit tree,” seems to be the party’s response to negative court decisions.

Whether on its NICE Radio programme with its constant mantra of “dem tief de election” since Dec. 9, 2015, or in other media, the party seems determined to self-destruct with its monotonous repetition of the errors that Justice John cogently concluded did not constitute sufficient grounds for overturning the two election results.

The NDP certainly doesn’t know the meaning of another local expression, “Donkey dead; dismount,” when it continues to proclaim that, “The trial vindicated the outcry made by the NDP following the 2015 general elections” (The News newspaper, March 22, p. 12). It did no such thing because you cannot be vindicated by a negative decision. But for this NDP, the so-called “court of public opinion,” composed solely of biased Party supporters eager to gain power by any means necessary, takes precedence over the impartial, comprehensive, and intelligent opinion of a member of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

Regardless of whether the NDP engages in even more tree cutting by appealing Justice John’s decision, as it has promised to do, its leadership has vowed to continue “to fight” the 2015 results until at least the next election highlighting Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ claim on Star FM, his party’s radio station, following the High Court ruling that, “Sooner rather than later, they [the NDP] will be exposed for what they are: anti-national, undemocratic, because they lost the election.”

If true, this assertion raises the more fundamental question of which party – NDP or ULP – actually tried to “steal the election” following the approval of its results in December 2015 as free and fair by three respected bodies of external observers.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

15 replies on “Which party really tried to steal the 2015 election?”

  1. I did not read one word of this article and I do not have to. C. Ben is very good when it comes to very many things but he is a “dyed-in- the- wool” NDP HATER and it is very easy to guess what the article is all about. Everything that is NDP is bad. He is objective about the ULP but will support it no mater what. It is evidence that even intelligent people can sometimes show total ignorance.

  2. Democratic elections are processes that we ought to be able to put our trust in and equally so firmly rely on, but when some parties involving in the process behave thoroughly unfairly, the result is to introduce doubt in the system of government.

    We are learning for example that a Guatemalan presidential candidate has been recently arrested in the USA for ‘promising the notorious Sinaloa Drug Cartel – once led by El Chapo – free reign of his country’s’ ports to smuggle drugs into the U.S – that is, if they helped him fund his election campaign.’ What were the Guatemalan people to expect were he to be successful?
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6937861/Guatemalan-presidential-candidate-arrested-Miami-soliciting-money-Mexican-cartel.html

    We further read of this slogan being repeated in the streets of India of a major political Party’s action there, “They loot the poor to fund their party”…..that one major Political Party there, stole funds from Central Government funded schemes, which were meant for malnourished children and pregnant mothers and added them to their Party coffers . https://www.republicworld.com/the-debate/1016/2609/unbelievable-cash-stash-whose-money-was-it-anyway

    Here in SVG, Vinciman, a defender of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves Family run administration, while commenting on our election processes, boldly had this to say;

    Quote: “What you fail to see, fail to hear or even pay attention to…., is what we call “Labour love”. The latter comes in the form of political “handouts” at any time, yep even election time, as a means of saying ‘… thank you, SVG, thank you Vincentians for believing in us your three (3) times going for four (4) elected ULP government.

    Here take this take that, it’s for all of you, you all earned it and we’re happy to give it to you. Come next election we hope you vote for us again. WE LOVE YOU’! … You call that bribery? No sir, not at all!” But one Jolly Green, in what is seen as both entirely unfair and immoral behaviour by the ULP, has summed up these matters here in St Vincent and the Grenadines for us by stating the following, quote:

    “Regardless of the March 21, 2019, ruling of Judge Stanley John in the matter of the SVG election petitions, the court of public opinion who followed the issue closely may give a different verdict. Judges must follow legal guidelines and laws; the public often follows its heart and head in the court of public opinion.

    “Election fraud” is a generic term. Laws, however, are specific. You either followed the law or you didn’t. In the SVG election, it has been proved without any doubt that many legal processes were not followed. They may or may not have been mistakes by election officials, regardless, therefore, the law was not observed, perhaps by default but that is inexcusable and unforgivable. Maybe excusable in the mind of a judge perhaps not forgivable in the mind of public opinion.

    When numbers don’t add up to their self, they are called impossible numbers. In such cases, exactly which numbers were true or false may be unknowable, especially if the chain of evidence was breached. When you break the chain of custody, you can recount ballots ’till the cows come home, but when you don’t know if the ballots are the real ones, recounting won’t cure uncertainty.
    So, when there are in one box more counterfoils than ballots that should send all kinds of messages to all corners of the state.” Jolly Green

    Taking note of Vinciman comment, the question for all us Vincentian voters is, are we being cynically conned by the family regime?

  3. I heard that the father of an NDP man was Joe Grind in C. ben-David’s home. Decades after, C. ben-David he is still steeped in hated of the NDP because he cannot forget that domestic incident. Like Jamal, when I read the headline of this piece, I simply ignored the rest. Some people will forever blame an entire organization because of the action of one individual, one ant that when into their sugar pan. Christ man, that was over 20 years ago. Get over it or it might kill you. I can imagine how C. ben-David feels, but it’s not the end of the world, sir.

  4. Trauma is a bitch. After all these years, this writer is still blowing his horn loud, wrong notes notwithstanding

  5. There is an old adage that goes like this, “one can win the battle but loose the war “. Similarly one has to pick which battle to be engaged in. Let say the NDP were to appeal the case which was ruled in favor of the ULP by Stanley John, by the time a decision is given the next election will be due.

    As far as strategies are concerned, the NDP would have been better off preparing for the next election rarher than appealing the case . Indeed they are ill-advised.

    1. Maybe the NDP has a great concern for principals, and that is why they are appealing. Maybe they care about the truth. We all know of leaders that do nnot care about the truth, only how they can fool the people to believe anything he/she wishes. Maybe the NDP believe, as Christians believe, that it does matter how the game is played. If it is not played fairly then the victory is a hollow one, knowing you did not play fairly. From the actions of a few in the ULP, (unfortunately they are at the top), the ends justify the means. This is a dangerous and destructive attitude that can and will lead humanity further down the evil road we are presently going. How can a political party complain about the terrible things the USA is doing in Venezuela when they turn around and believe it is fine to hand out millions of dollars in building materials a year before elections? I see a similarity. In my book it is called cheating.
      C. Ben has a blind hatred of the NDP, we all know that. Anyone can write an article after taking a particular perspective and convince the gullible. It would even be possible to write that the Russians hacked our elections or that the Green Party tried to steal the elections. Sometimes it is just not worth paying any attention to this author.

  6. Urlan Alexander says:

    if the NDP appeal the ruling of Stanly John and is successful even if it is one day before the next election it will mean that Ralph and the ULP are frauds and they did steal the election. let the chips fall where they may. In the eyes of the world our democracy is a laughing stock,.Pursuing this case is important for our democracy. Listening to the evidence by election workers in the petition hearing no one in theie right frame of mind who beleives in democracy could be such an NDP hater that they allow lies to cloud their sense of reasoning. This article is however BS!

  7. If the NDP loses in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, which is is the most likely outcome of an appeal, the party will be far worse off than it is now. If the NDP happens to win because Justice John didn’t fully address the two issues in the North Windward constituency, the ULP can always blame their loss on this oversight rather than the conduct of the election. Again, the NDP will be the big losers in 2020.

    It would be far better for the NDP to focus on the poor performance of the ULP in several areas including:

    1. the failure of Argyle airport to bring in loads of new tourists to the mainland.

    2. the failure to attract more than one inexperienced Caribbean hotel developer — Pace Developments, a mid-size builder of homes and condominiums in Toronto — to build a resort on a black sand beach at Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope.

    3. the foolish decision of the government to borrow millions to build two hotels on the mainland because no foreign developer wants to do so.

    4. the decrepit state of Kingstown.

    5. the high rate of unemployment and higher rate of underemployment.

    6. the poor state of infrastructure, especially roads, all across the country, including the Grenadines.

    7. the appalling state of medical care and treatment.

    8. the failed education revolution which has produced credentialed dunces who can’t even do long division without a calculator and habitually spell cat as “kat.”

    9. the huge out-migration of our best and brightest citizens to other lands.

    10. the degradation of our precious and fragile environment right under the noses of the governimng party.

    11. the failure of Buccmant Bay resort to re-open.

    A political party that always looks backward has no future. If you don’t believe me, ask Donald Trump who will be re-elected in 2020 because the Democrats are still fighting the losing “Russia collusion” battle.

    1. All of your points are true and from the perspective of anyone or just some re-wording the list can be extended. However the NDP will be no worse off if they lose on appeal. The trial has proven that the ULP conducted a shameful election that would have been nullified anywhere else in the world, but we seem to have a high tolerance for wrong-doing and incompetence, cheating, bullying and telling lies here. The USA is becoming more and more like us and is already worse in some ways. I am sure that your list of 11 can easily go to a list of 100. Foreign investment in general, not just for hotels, is very low in Saint Vincent. The only area that investors seem to be interested in is Cannabis; and globally that will die-out very soon.

      C. Ben, you did very well in your research on the airport, I would like to get your opinion and see research on the Futures of Cannabis locally and globally. I have already heard from obscure articles that the price is dropping like a rock! This is due to the fact that thousands of hectares are being grown in Africa at the fraction of the cost and of far higher quality than we or the USA can produce. Notwithstanding the fact that cannabis can be grown on over 70% of the earth. Notwithstanding the fact that the demand is no where near as high as the (supply) world is already producing. It is not a cure-all for everything and when the hype dies out those in SVG and elsewhere who thought they were going to get rich will have been better-off if they instead planted arrowroot or sweet potato. It may just be a question of when.

      1. Our marijuana industry has always consisted of its illegal production and sale for home and regional markets which has given a good living to hundreds of growers and sellers. If marijuana is ever fully legalized, this illegal period will be seen as the golden days of the local industry.

        I agree with all your intelligent comments.

  8. Whether you like it or not the article by C.Ben David is a balance one, look at his response . I don’t know the man but I believe he has broad shoulders to withstand these unwarranted criticisms.

  9. C. Ben, you will certainly ignore the fact that the NDP has proposed that government pays far more attention to our bad medical situation in SVG. You mention this as number 7 on your list, but you will avoid at all costs that the NDP says the same thing. Ralph Gonsalves has indicated that the Medical Care in SVG is not very important. Maybe because he, all the big party bosses and the rich go overseas for any and every problem they or thier family may have.You will also ignore things such as the NDP has recently stated the traffic problem has to be addressed. Now that I have mentioned this you will make sure that never makes it onto your list, or you will ignore that the NDP stated it. As you live in the USA, you know that there planners project over a decade into the future how to alleviate future traffic problems. The congestion of Kingstown should have been addressed starting over 20 years ago. Gonsalves has just continued that failure of Mitchell well-into his own stewardship, and still refuses to address the issue.
    In truth the NDP has, at some time, mentioned most all of the same points on your list, and many more, such as the crime situation, (although you believe that there is no link between poverty, joblessness and crime). Anything constructive the NDP says or does you make it a point to ignore, and instead you look for hypothetical reasons to demonize them. The NDP has certainly made some mistakes and I do not agree with everything they say or do but what I dislike more is the fact that at present the country is certainly going in the wrong direction in a macro way. Many of the policy seems to be sound to the electorate but whenever the same (socialistic) policy has been applied at any time in history, it has always failed, it only enriches the leadership and thier associates while the poor get free handouts, destroying thier work-ethic, and the middle-class slowly disappears into a working-poor class, as it was in Venezuela.

    1. 1. I did not prioritize these points — including medical care which is very poor here — and could well have added many more points.

      2. I totally agree that traffic in Kingstown, indeed all over the country, is a mess. There is: (1) too much street parking and parking on both side of the road; (2) not enough parking lots and no multi-story parkades; (3) not enough one-way streets; (4) too little restricted parking, including no-parking zones, 15-minute loading zones, and one-hour only parking zones; (5) too many vendors on the road hogging parking spaces; (6) no charge for parking day and night in the same place which could be stopped by the introduction of parking metres which would gain much needed road repair revenue for the government; and (6) most important, little police prosecution of traffic violations.

      3. Much of the parking and traffic congestion issues would be addressed by prohibiting the import of used vehicles.

      4. The government — this or the next — should invite urban planners from overseas, especially mainland China which is a world leader in this area, to study the existing urban and country traffic and transportation systems and put in place a plan to reduce the existing congestion, something that would be very cheap to implement.

      Contrary to your assertion, I have repeated commented on this and other traffic issues.

      Contrary also to what you and others believe, I have absolutely no political allegience whether ULP or NDP. Rather, I believe both parties are hell bent on one thing only: gaining and maintaining power via vote-reaping polices that have made our country and people worse off.

      I am not alone in this belief. There are thousands of partriotic Vincentians at home and abroad who put country above party. Too bad that this cohort represents a minority of Vincentians.

  10. It is not a question of either or regarding these issues but doing what an opposition political party ought to do and that is, challenge the Government in its actions.

    The N.D.P needs to be much more vocal in raising the issues of failed Government policies but equally, they ought to consider their chances in winning an Appeal in the Courts, if only in seeing than an illegitimate Government is routed and brought down. After all, we ought to be governed by legitimate Governments, and one who observe the rule of Law.

    The ruling U.L.P regime here, led by the Gonsalves extended family, constantly boast of ruling over us for eighteen years and as every Vincentian knows, during this period, and in all these past elections, there were allegations of cash handouts, livestock and material gifts giveaways. To what scale it is hard to tell.

    Nevertheless, the manipulation of the poll through various means, are the hallmark of dictatorships.
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6943719/Sudans-ousted-Omar-al-Bashir-100million-cash-sacks-stuffed-dollars-villa.html

    The hoarding of Cash and materials for distribution at election times, together with tampering with the ballot, serves to undermine the democratic process, the same being so common elsewhere. If we as a people are to re-join the nations of functioning democracies, it goes without saying, that utter confidence in our electoral system is needed, and for the opposition parties, exhausting the appeal process may ensure such confidence.

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