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Assassination allegations – Serious business

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25.JAN.11

Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves informed the Parliament and people of this country of a plot to assassinate the head of this country’s government. It was not the first time that the Prime Minister had spoken about such a plot. What appears to be different this time is that he said that the alleged hit man is now in police custody.{{more}} He also gave more details than he has in the past, surrounding the allegation. According to Dr. Gonsalves, an assault rifle was recovered and the only reason the person in custody has not yet been charged with the assassination plot is because security authorities want to protect “the most valuable intelligence sources”.

While the Prime Minister was making his revelation to Parliament, two groups of rival supporters were outside Parliament, on different sides of the street, placards and all, the Opposition protesting the amendment of two pieces of legislation, and government supporters giving vocal support to government’s actions.

Therein lies one of the tragedies of our politics, for neither side is listening to the other. Whatever the PM may charge, opposition supporters are unlikely to be sympathetic, whilst on the other hand, irrespective of whether such plots have anything at all to do with the Opposition, government supporters are inclined to so believe.

That political context and gaping divide make it difficult to address any major national challenge with any sense of unity of purpose. The immediate tendency on the part of persons opposed to the government seems to be to scoff at any such allegations, especially given the fact that this is not the first time that assassination plots have been raised by the Prime Minister. Is he in the classic situation of the boy who cried “Wolf!”? It is even said in some quarters that this latest allegation is but a political distraction, to divert attention from pressing political challenges and disputes, including opposition to the proposed legislative amendments.

If, heaven help us, the Prime Minister is going down that line, then he is playing a dangerous game indeed. We refuse to believe that a sitting prime Minister could be so irresponsible and reckless to engage in making baseless charges of such a serious nature. For this goes far beyond Ralph Gonsalves; we are talking here of a Head of Government, the leader of a country’s Parliament, whose life is said to be threatened by a murderous plot on the part of alleged drug traffickers and paid assassins. That is serious business, very serious business indeed. So serious that it should be so regarded by all in our society, particularly those who occupy the highest offices in the land, servants of the people through the institution of Parliament.

Save for the Prime Minister’s statement, there has been little other information. But we live in a real world and actions such as those alleged by Dr. Gonsalves are not unknown. Modern telecommunications make us aware how desperate and vicious those who engage in such high-level illegal activities can be, whether in Mexico, Colombia or Jamaica. Their actions can constitute a grave threat to the rule of law and the democratic institutions in which we believe. We cannot afford to take lightly revelations of any such plots. Jamaica in 2010 is an experience we should never forget. We must be on our guard and never allow political differences to come before the preservation of our democracy.

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