Opposition Lawmaker St. Clair Leacock says that the gun-wielding allegation against government senator Ashelle Morgan is the latest in the series of incidents in which members of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) “feel they can flex with their gun”.
“In this country of St. Vincent, we have had more people lose their lives to the gun than we have lost through [the eruption of La] Soufriere, through COVID or dengue, and this is a culture that you all don’t want to address,” the Central Kingstown MP told the media outside Parliament on Tuesday.
“Every time a member and the hierarchy of the Unity Labour Party has a problem, they feel they can flex with their gun,” Leacock said.
“We had a situation of Hans King [former press secretary to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves], if he was on mainland St. Vincent, what he would have done; we had [MP for North Leeward] Carlos James, [then a ULP candidate] pulling his gun [in 2015] and doing what he had to do; we had a guy beating his wife in America and coming here and being elevated to be press secretary to the prime minister. You have all the consulates doing all sorts of nonsense stories, no clear action.”
Leacock was speaking immediately after he and other opposition lawmakers walked out of Parliament in support of opposition Leader Godwin Friday, who was ordered to leave after defying the speaker’s ruling.
Friday had asked House Speaker Rochelle Forde to order Morgan, who is also deputy speaker of the house of assembly, to excuse herself from Parliament until the completion of an investigation in an April 13, shooting in Diamond.
Morgan is alleged to have been present when Cornelius John, a 60-year-old businessman was shot in his leg at his home in the East St. George community.
She is further alleged to have wielded a gun during the incident, and Commissioner of Police Colin John has confirmed that Morgan and Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Karim Nelson are “persons of interest” in the investigation.
Nelson has taken leave of his post, pending the outcome of the investigation.
“You think it is by chance a person moves from virtually nowhere, becomes a speaker of the house and feels that they are so empowered to go with a DPP to shoot a man in his leg — allegedly?” Leacock said.
“That is when you feel you can do anything and that’s where St. Vincent reach. That where we are at and that is what we have to stamp out.
“This house (parliament) has been becoming the most undemocratic place — under Hendrick [Alexander], under Carlos [James] and under Jomo [Thomas] and it is about time that the speakers of the house stand to be counted. This is little St. Vincent. Look at what is happening in Myanmar. Look at what is happening around the world where people are standing up for justice and we can’t make a stand here?”
He said that the fundamental issue is that the House of Assembly is under the jurisdiction of the speaker “and where there are no rules she is empowered to exercise her best judgment.
“She, like all Vincentians, is seized of the facts, that something happened that made the sitting of the house today not to be sitting on all four. What is that? A member of the house has been accused of criminal conduct….
“The commissioner so said;the newspaper so said. If a person said that they have reported to the commissioner of police a criminal activity and the commissioner said that in that regard the commissioner said the person is one of interest, it suggests that he has squared the circle,” Leacock said.