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Gonsalves sworn in as PM for fifth consecutive time

Gonsalves sworn in as PM for fifth consecutive time
DR RALPH Gonsalves

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The opportunity to serve as prime minister for a quarter century is a tremendous honour that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he accepts with the greatest of humility.

Gonsalves was officially sworn in to serve as Prime Minister in the House of Assembly for the fifth consecutive time this week.

When he stood on the floor to address Parliament, he thanked God for the opportunity to have served for almost two decades and to be granted an additional five years in office.

“Madame Speaker, when I reflect on it, it is a tremendous honour and I want to thank the people who repose confidence in me for a fifth time,” he said. “I really do want to thank the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines for returning the Unity Labour Party to office for a fifth consecutive time and on this occasion, we got one more seat even though … a sliver of popular votes separate us in favour of the NDP.”

When the final count of votes from the 2020 Elections was completed, the ULP claimed nine of the country’s 15 constituencies but the NDP had earned the popular vote, gaining 474 more at the polls than the ULP.

The ULP’s win has resulted in Carlos James, a former senator, deputy speaker and Speaker of the House being the new parliamentary representative for North Leeward.

Prior to James’ one-vote victory margin in the November 5 general elections, parliamentary representation for North Leeward lay on the Opposition side of the House in the hands of Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews since 2010.

Orando Brewster, the parliamentary representative for Central Leeward is also a new parliamentarian, having won with a significant margin at the polls in this year’s elections.

He replaces former deputy prime minister, Sir Louis Straker as Central Leeward’s parliamentary representative.

The Prime Minister, on Monday, offered congratulations to all candidates who put themselves forward in the General Elections.

“It’s an amazing decision to offer yourself to represent people and whether you are elected or not, it is a lifechanging experience and it requires courage,” he said.

Gonsalves also thanked all the candidates from political organisations and parties that participated in the recent elections, the Supervisor of Elections and staff and the observers from CARICOM and the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism.

He said that the elections were largely peaceful and have been adjudged free and fair despite the occasional dissonance.

The veteran parliamentarian, who is the representative for North Central Windward also congratulated Dr Godwin Friday on his appointment as Leader of the Opposition.

“Of course, some may say long may he be Leader of the Opposition…I’m not going to be churlish today, but I’m sure he is not as happy in the post of Leader of the Opposition as he would’ve been as prime minister but that is how sometimes the dice is rolled, the metaphoric dice is rolled…” he said.

Gonsalves also congratulated Friday and the NDP on “a very spirited campaign within the finest traditions of competitive democracy”.