Vocal New Democratic Party supporters picket Parliament
Political activist and businessman Leon “Bigger Biggs” Samuel says it is unfair that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is still the head of Government.
Samuel was one of a small group of New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters who picketed outside the House of Assembly on Monday during the first session of the eleventh Parliament and swearing in ceremony of members of the House.
Samuel said he was protesting because the recent election in which the NDP won the popular vote should have meant a new prime minister for the country.
He said that in 1998, the NDP won eight seats but the majority of votes went to the Unity Labor Party (ULP) and Dr Gonsalves, Sir Vincent Beache (deceased) and other members of the ULP fought until they got new elections.
“Until today date they still in office because of 1998. They didn’t take it lie down and I am not willing to take this lie down either.
“I am asking us to come out and let us make the move now to see the back of the ULP. We are the majority and we must get the government we want which is the NDP,” Samuel said.
What Samuel is referring to when he speaks of the ULP not “taking it lie down” in 1998, is the political and social unrest that took place after the NDP won the general elections in keeping the first-past-the-post system.
Although the NDP won 8 seats to the ULP’s 7 seats, they won with 4816 votes fewer than the Opposition
To quell the unrest, then president of the NDP James Mitchell agreed to early elections and the ULP won the poll held in March 2001.
Another protester was on the picket line for a totally different reason.
Tyrone James, secretary general of the NDP said he was there to support the party’s representatives in Parliament.
“This is not a protest, we are supporting our candidates in Parliament today and we are taking the opportunity to highlight some of the issues that are confronting Vincentians,” James said.
He listed two of the issues as the lack of jobs and poverty.