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Eustace, Gonsalves differ over cheque from Libya

Eustace, Gonsalves differ over cheque from Libya

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, under fire from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace for receiving what Eustace calls “blood money” from Libya, is fighting back, and has remarked that Eustace is a “political infant”.{{more}}

The US$250,000 that this country received from Libya on Monday, February 21, as part of hurricane relief support, is not blood money, said Gonsalves at a Unity Labour Party (ULP) political rally at Richland Park, last Sunday evening. He contends that it is oil money that arrived late.

Eustace told his party supporters at a New Democratic Party (NDP) rally last Thursday, February 25, that the Gonsalves-led administration was receiving money from Libya, even as the Gaddafi government was shooting down people during protests, which started in that country recently.

“Up to Monday morning gone here, this Monday for this week, Gaddafi sent US$250,000 to Ralph Gonsalves for NEMO. You hear me? The same man who is shooting down people in Libya this week and last week sent money to the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines here on Monday.

“You know, that is blood money! That is blood money! It is being done at a time when his own people, when he is gunning down his own people and because the people, over the years, allowed him to be a dictator, and now while they are suffering, he sending a few dollars for Ralph,” Eustace said.

“I want Ralph to tell the people of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, I want him to tell them what is his position now on Gaddafi,” said Eustace, adding that when his Party had complained about St.Vincent and the Grenadines’ relationship with Libya, they were labelled as “not progressive”, “backward” and “dotish”.

Gonsalves, however, disclosed on Sunday evening that Libya had agreed last year to assist the country in the hurricane recovery process and had indicated that it would give US$250,000 towards housing.

He further explained that when initial contact was made for the money, there was no turmoil in Libya.

Gonsalves further contended that the money took a while to leave Libya and arrived late in St Lucia, where the Libyan Embassy is based.

“So when Arnhim Eustace saying that the $250,000 is blood money, that is the talk of a political infant,” Gonsalves told party supporters.

“What is interesting is that no politician was there to receive the cheque,” Gonsalves said, noting that it was the Permanent Secretary and the Director of NEMO that had done so.

The Prime Minister further explained that it was not necessary to sever diplomatic relations with any country because one is not in agreement with certain actions of the government of that country.

“You have diplomatic relations with the country, not with the government,” Gonsalves said, adding that while governments may have relations with each other in one way or the other, diplomatic relations were established between countries.

“President Obama has not announced the breaking of diplomatic relations with Libya. In the United Kingdom, they have not broken relations with Libya, but they have taken certain actions in relation to assets,” the Prime Minister continued.

He added that the St. Lucian officials had also indicated that the Libyan Embassy there serves the islands of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and that it will remain there.

“There are a lot of people who talk and don’t quite grasp the subtleties in diplomacy,” Gonsalves said.

He further stated that this Government could not condone the shooting of innocent people or treating people outside the framework of international laws.

“And that was why we, as part of CARICOM, condemned that,” he said.

According to the Prime Minister, in the same way that CARICOM had issued a statement on the recent civil unrest in Egypt, so too had a statement been issued addressing the situation in Libya.

“In fact CARICOM has just issued a statement condemning North Africa, which includes Libya,” he said.

Gonsalves added that the statement condemned the violence and made an appeal for reconciliation and for the respect of human rights and the restoration of democracy.

At the level of the United Nations (UN), two resolutions on Libya were expected to come to the General Assembly yesterday.

Gonsalves said that he expected this country and the other Heads of Government to carry one position and that the position will be consistent with the majority of the persons at the UN.

Yesterday, on the NDP sponsored New Times radio programme, Eustace reiterated that he is sticking to his words that the funds accepted by the Gonsalves administration is blood money. (DD)