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Democracy can be unkind but we must be mature

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Democracy can be unkind to half the population but it demands of both sides a duty to be mature. It behooves the victor to govern in the interest of ALL the people and the other side to accept its loss and mount an alert and diligent opposition.

Since the conclusion of the general elections of December 9, 2015 and the declaration by the relevant authority that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) had won, the New Democratic Party (NDP) has refused to concede defeat.{{more}} The party is alleging irregularities in the Central Leeward constituency, which it says caused the ULP to win that seat and thus form government.

Observer groups from the OAS, Caricom and the Commonwealth have however said the results of the general elections fairly represent the will of the people.

At a press conference last Saturday, leader of the NDP Mr Arnhim Eustace indicated the intention of his party to go to court to contest the results, but in the meantime, he said they would stage protest action.

This agitation took on a new dimension last Sunday when the supervisor of elections and other elections officials were verbally assaulted and videotaped while leaving the supervisor’s office in Kingstown. The narrator of one of the videotapes could be heard urging supporters to follow the vehicle in which the supervisor was travelling. Allegations of impropriety were also hurled at the officials by members of the small group, who questioned why were the officials working on a Sunday. How does the harassment of the supervisor of elections in such a manner assist in the quest of the NDP to form government?

Elections invariably reduce expectations and crush ambitions, but the leadership of the NDP needs to take control of its membership before the situation gets completely out of hand and someone gets hurt. We therefore welcome the announcement by Mr Eustace on Tuesday to halt protest action by the party until after the Christmas season to allow Vincentians to retrieve whatever they can from a seriously wounded Christmas season. Unfortunately, despite the call by the party to cease and settle, the protests continue, albeit on a minute scale, led by fringe elements of the party.

The laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines provide an avenue for the results of elections to be challenged. The NDP should file their complaints, which hopefully will be dealt with speedily by the court, so that justice could be served. But in the meantime, the country needs to settle down because in this state of unrest, everyone suffers.

Jose Marti once said without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty. A true man does not seek the path of advantage, but rather the path where duty lies. People in public life must recognize that public service anticipates a sense of civic duty over personal ambition. Let us be mature about this and do the right thing.

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