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The ULP billboards after they were burnt on the night of April 7, 2024.
The ULP billboards after they were burnt on the night of April 7, 2024.
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has defended his Unity Labour Party’s (ULP)  decision to keep on permanent display at Frenches Gate, Kingstown, the billboards promoting him and his party, which have been set on fire twice since they were erected years ago.

One of the billboards displays a photo of Gonsalves and his self-styled “Five Star General” and “World Boss” slogans, while the other displays the photos of the prime minister, his son and Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar.

The billboard with the trio displays the slogan “To continue the transformation”. 

“The facts are these: every billboard which the ULP has put up has been put up with the permission of the planning authorities, is in accordance with the planning authorities,” Gonsalves said on WE FM on Sunday. 

He further stated that the billboards are on private property.

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“Thirdly, there is no law, or no sensibility connected to civilisation, or civilised life and living to say you can’t have billboards up after elections,” he said, adding that this happens In the United States, Canada and  Britain.

“In the United States, the election campaign is a continuous one. You see the billboards all over the country.”

He noted that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Representation of the People’s Act says that “buntings and images and the like” must not be displayed on election day.

“And what we do on Election Day is — and where they are near to a polling station — we certainly cover them. That polling station which is opposite where those billboards are, on election morning, they’re covered,” he said. 

“Anybody who has any memory will remember that. So, I just want to state these particular facts,” Gonsalves said, adding that he also wanted to state “other facts”.

“While you’re quite correct that there is no evidence that anybody connected with the New Democratic Party burnt the billboards, that you can’t say that they hired somebody to do it, or anybody supporting them did it on their own accord, or with the approval of the new Democratic Party, certainly, nobody in the ULP will burn their own billboards,” the prime minister said.

“Nobody who supports the ULP will burn their own billboards. I’m not saying that anybody who is supporting the NDP did the burning. But I’m stating what we can reasonably present as facts and evidence.”

He noted that it is the second time that the billboards were burnt, adding that it happened early on April 8, following the ULP rally at Arnos Vale to celebrate its 23rd anniversary in office. 

“So there may well be some coincidence, there may be none,” Gonsalves said, adding, “Reasonable persons can draw their own conclusions.”

He said there are “a number of other facts”, adding that he was struck in the head and injured while on his way to Parliament two years ago.

“To the best of my knowledge, there was no condemnation of that fact. Further fact: after I got my head buss, there were drummers into the night in front of the market, ‘De World Boss get a buss head, he shudda dead.’ 

“I didn’t hear condemnation of that. I heard about the majesty and the authenticity of drumming, and its African connectedness, as though the solemnity and virtue of drumming can be misused and abused in the manner in which it was on that particular occasion.”

He further said that for two or three years after the 2015 general elections, then Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, “an upstanding woman, was harassed, cursed, verbally-abused.

“She was laid siege for three years plus, continuously, by an organisation associated with the New Democratic Party, and supported at the time there, intermittently, over those three years by people from the leadership of the New Democratic Party.

“So, I just want to state certain basic facts and leave those for the consideration of reasonable people.”

“World Boss” is the sobriquet used by Jamaica artiste Vybz Kartel, who is awaiting a decision by the Jamaica Court of Appeal on whether he should be retried for murder after the London-based Privy Council overturned his conviction.

Gonsalves rejected that allegation that because “World Boss” is associated with someone charged with a serious crime anything associated with the term indicates that the person to whom it refers “is somebody involved in criminal activity”.

The prime minister said this was the suggestion by a caller to the programme. 

He said that while the caller did not condone the burning of the billboards, “he sets about to offer a justification that somehow people are living under a government where they’re so frustrated, that they will take their frustration out to burn the billboards in frustration… 

“So that kind of attempted clever verbal gymnastics really wouldn’t wash it. And I hope this learned gentleman would reflect on some of the things which he said earlier this morning,” Gonsalves said.

3 replies on “PM defends ULP’s decision to keep billboards repeatedly burnt  ”

  1. Sandra Small says:

    Just a question PM, why should a foreigner picture be displayed and the likes of Eustace, Chatoyer, Duvalier and other patriots are not displayed? Can it be said that Camillo who is an American by birth is a patriot? If so some people will be screaming injustice. What would Yuggie say?

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