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Pay heed to Christian Council call

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SEARCHLIGHT supports unreservedly the call of the Christian Council to both Government and Opposition to place the interests of our country and people above all else and seek reconciliation rather than the fruitless confrontation which has been exhibited in our country in recent times.{{more}}

In a most welcome statement issued earlier this week, the Christian Council, called for (1) National reconciliation, and (2) A hold on further proceeding with the amendment to the Representation of the People Act (on the part of Government), and the mounting of protests against it (on the part of the Opposition). It also committed itself to seek an independent analysis of the proposed Bill and offered to play the lead role in mediation efforts.

The Christian Council has come under some criticism in recent years in the context of the never-ending series of confrontations between the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP). Ever since the popular protests of the year 2000, supported by the ULP which led to the holding of elections in 2001, two years before schedule, and the subsequent victory of the ULP, the NDP has not relented in its challenge to the ULP. Efforts by the Christian Council to mediate have not always been welcomed, yet whenever there is upheaval in society, members of the public ask: “What is the Church doing?”.

To its credit, the Council has now had the courage, not only to speak out, but to offer itself to mediate, in what are most difficult circumstances. Since the March 3, 2011 confrontation, there has been no sign that either side is interested in reconciliation. Each seems to be bent on upholding the justness of its cause and finger-pointing, rather than sober reflection.

We are clearly doing our country little good with all that has been taking place. Any Vincentian concerned about the future of our country, its stability and democracy, cannot help but be worried about the current state of affairs.

The Christian Council is providing us all with at least an opportunity for a cooling of tempers and mature reflection and introspection. If left up to the respective parties, egos and partisan interests will tend to override the interests of the country as a whole. The Christian Council is being fair to both sides in asking for restraint on their part. Government is asked to put the proposed amendment on the ice, while an independent view is sought. The Opposition has been asked to desist from further protests while mediation is being pursued.

The offers may not meet the approval of those on one side or another, who seek nothing but total victory, but at whose expense? We do believe that the offer of the Christian Council provides a reasonable basis on which to pursue reconciliation and a solution to the political impasse. Surely a Government which has committed itself to national reconciliation cannot spurn such an offer. It should take the lead in accepting it. We urge the Opposition to do the same, and the general public to come out strongly in support of the Council’s initiative.