St. Vincent Governor General Identifies Troubling Election Issues

In an I-Witness New report, it was revealed that during his Throne Speech at the ceremonial opening of the 9th Parliament on Wednesday, 29th December, Sir Ballantyne listed the “five aspects of the general elections which I personally found to be troubling”, namely:

1. The excess of personal abuse and vilification from the platforms;

2. The disregard of the law and people’s sensitivities in the abuse of the right to broadcast over public address systems mounted on moving vehicles;

3. The defacing of private and public property with posters and painted markings;

4. The instances, albeit few, of politically-motivated violence; and,

5. The huge sums of money spent in the elections by the political parties and their supporters.

He said the defacing of private and state property with campaign paraphernalia “is unacceptable in modern St. Vincent and the Grenadines” and violence “has no place in our democratic politics”.

Sir Frederick, the nation’s ceremonial head of state, said that “the fresh and unambiguous mandate” given by the electorate to the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) led by Dr Ralph Gonsalves and the increased support for Arnhim Eustace and his New Democratic Party (NDP) “point to the necessity and desirability of both sides working constructively together in the nation’s interest”.

The ULP was returned to office for a third straight term having won eight of the 15 seats. It lost to the NDP four of the seats it held in the last Parliament.

“Healing, reconciliation, and nation-building should be among our major goals,” said the Governor General.

He said the government “is most sensitive to the issues of healing and reconciliation consequent upon the recent bruising and divisive general elections.

“Truth and honesty are essential pre-conditions for healing and reconciliation.  Defamation, unseemly personal attacks, character assassination, and the trafficking in falsehoods will undermine any serious effort at healing and reconciliation.  Thus, they ought to be avoided,” he added.

Sir Frederick, however, believed that “most reasonable citizens are likely to concur with the view that personal vilification has gone way beyond any accepted limits.

“Indeed, some political speeches and some rants on talk-radio have been nothing but malicious, verbal abuse and defamation of character.  We must stop it,” he said.

He said Vincentians ought to live more lovingly, with each citizen making “a better effort henceforth so to do.

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