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SVG: The biggest loser

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08.FEB.08

The history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is replete with many fine deeds of our people and glorious moments of their accomplishments. Equally we have had our doldrums and periods of notoriety. Fortunately on balance, one can say that it is more a case of the former than the latter. We would all wish not only that it would stay that way, but that the inglorious moments be even fewer and farther between. Wishful thinking, to judge by the sordid developments of the past week or so!{{more}}

The whole country is not only tainted with a scandal, the like of which is unprecedented in either our pre-independence or post-independence politics, but which today, in this world of rapid communications technology, is dragging the fine name of our country through the putrid gutters of the world. For it involves none other than a very serious allegation, of grave moral as well as criminal character, against the leader of our Government. In so doing, the world is looking not just at Ralph Gonsalves, not just at our political machinations, but at the PEOPLE of this blessed land.

That the allegation should concern a matter, which only last year, became one of strong national moral outrage, a charge of rape, makes it an even more shocking development. For we as a people last year were rightly shocked about the revelation of the extent of the prevalence of sexual crimes against women in our society. The Prime Minister himself and his chief opponent, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, have both commented appropriately on the issue. There can, therefore, be said to be a national consensus in condemnation of rape and similar acts of sexual abuse.

After all of this, the fact that a charge, unsubstantiated or not, should be hurled at the Head of our Government, must have been for all of us distressing to say the least. That it can now degenerate into one of the nastiest political battles ever witnessed in our country is testimony to the sad state of affairs to which our country has sunk. Worse, in our efforts to either crucify the Prime Minister or to try to exonerate him, we seem to have lost grip of the damage that these developments are doing to the alleged victim, her family, the wife and family of the accused and, above all, to the good name of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

To compound it all, the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions and of the Commissioner of Police have now been dragged into the fray, bringing more questions than answers in their tow.

Whatever the tactics of those on one side or the other, it cannot suffice, just to say that the case is closed and expect no serious political or moral fall-out. But with political battle lines drawn, with honour at stake and the reins of power the ultimate prize, some attempt has to be made to have reason prevail, to have our people satisfied that justice is being done and this is not just some fiendish plot.

For the gravity of the matter is such that it can sink us all. There will be no winner, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be the biggest loser. We cannot afford to throw away all the respect we have worked so hard to earn. Even as justice must be seen to be done, let us not all go over the brink in pursuit of other objectives.

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