According to reports coming out of St. Vincent, Gonsalves, a lawyer, speaking on the campaign trail on Monday 6th December, said Sylvester, who also a lawyer, is an activist for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and that his party will oppose her participation in a local group monitoring the general elections next Monday, 13 December.
“I want to give a public notice that the Unity Labour Party will not accept as part of the monitoring excise anybody from the Human Rights Association in St. Vincent because Nicole Sylvester is, for all practical purposes, an NDP activist and so is Jeanie Ollivierre. I want to make that plain, absolutely plain,” Gonsalves said in Rose Place, Kingstown.
Gonsalves said the SVGHRA “inveigled” itself in the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM) during the Constitution Referendum last year.
“You can only have independent persons acting as observers or monitors. I want to make that point absolutely clear. …[You] see they don’t understand the importance of independence in an election and they do not know and understand the power of the Labour masses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.
But Sylvester’s lawyers said that she is not an “NDP activist” nor is she affiliated with any political party and Gonsalves’ comments are defamatory.
“In seeking to allocate our client to your perception by alleging that she is an NDP activist and that she is incapable of monitoring the elections by inferring that she will be biased you are defaming our client’s professional reputation and her character, ethics and her oath which she upholds above all – without fear or favour,” the lawyers said.
“Our client Ms Nicole Sylvester participates in local, regional and international organizations where her fairness, independence in all matters and her upholding of the rule of law are viewed as a beacon for others and her viewpoints are heavily relied upon by these organizations.
“You are seeking to defame our client and in so doing attempting to deny and deprive her from being a monitor which will be a grave injustice…” the lawyers said.
The lawyers said their client “has always sought to uphold her oath to carry out her duties as a barrister-at-law without fear or favour” and has represented “persons on both sides of the political fence”.