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DEATH THREATS

DEATH THREATS

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has received threats on his life and has made a report to the head of the Special Branch of the Police Force.

In a hastily arranged press conference last Tuesday, May 30, the Prime Minister said that the threats are a direct retaliation by certain persons who feel aggrieved by the passing of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Citizenship Amendment Bill on Thursday, May 25.{{more}}

In the bill, persons who have received or seek to acquire Vincentian citizenship through marriages of convenience will soon have such citizenship revoked or prevented. When it completes its passage into law, the Citizenship Amendment bill will also address the revocation of the citizenship of persons who engage in criminal activities or are considered not to be a threat to national security, or act in a manner that is considered to be not in the interest of the public.

Dr. Gonsalves told the press that he had anticipated the threats and is taking them very seriously, stating that reports reaching him indicate that persons with “ridiculous

mindsets” have declared that he must “be stopped at all cost.”

“We consider citizenship to be the highest office in the land and that office cannot be treated lightly. It cannot have a framework of looseness,” stated the Prime Minister adamantly.

Describing St. Vincent’s citizenship procedure as the loosest in the region, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the bill was birthed out of a concern that our citizenship was greatly devalued by these practices.

“If you come from lands and places which are accustomed to that kind of activity, don’t bring it here!” was the direct warning given to those responsible for the threats on his life, adding that he has no intention of scaling down his movements or implementing any extra security measures, only that he will exercise prudence and sensibility as he carries out his duties.

A committee has been set up to carry out a full investigation and the Prime Minister remains convinced, despite objections from the Opposition, that the law is within the four walls of the constitution.

In a press release dated Tuesday, May 30, the New Democratic Party expressed concern about the power that will be in the hand of the Prime Minister as regards the revocation or denial of citizenship. “The abuse of power in this circumstance is a grave cause for concern.” The Opposition also contends that the bill was rushed through, which they regard to be a “blatant disrespect for the involvement of the public.”

“I have no more power than any Prime Minister has had under this act” said Gonsalves in response to the Opposition’s objections, adding that the authority given to him was enshrined in the law since 1984. “They are seventeen…no, twenty-two years late with their objection.”

Under the provision of the bill in question, the Minister with responsibility for citizenship has the final say, without any explanation or possible appeal or review in any court, for the granting of any citizenship application at his discretion.

As regards the accusation that the bill was “rushed through,” the Prime Minister was unmovable in his stance. He told the press core gathered that the opposition did not object to the provisions of the bill and he was therefore wondering what they wanted more time to do. Dr. Gonsalves made it a point to stress that in his opinion, most of the persons who have acquired citizenship in St. Vincent and the Grenadines through marriage or naturalization are good, hardworking, law-abiding citizens and thus have nothing to fear by this bill.

He also dismissed as “rubbish and nonsense,” any assertion that the Citizenship Amendment Act 2006 targets some of his critics. Laughing off such suggestions, the Prime Minister claimed that such persons feel that they are so important that he would want to pass a bill just to get at them. “That is for those and their fellow travelers in their echo chambers.”

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