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Gonsalves advises Eustace to be careful of Sir James’ return

Gonsalves advises Eustace to be careful of Sir James’ return


Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has accused his predecessor Sir James Mitchell of undermining the head of his own party, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace.{{more}}

Gonsalves criticised Sir James in Parliament on Wednesday, September 15, 2009, as he gave an assessment of the “strategic move” by Eustace to bring Sir James out of retirement to support the New Democratic Party’s “Vote-No Campaign” leading up to the referendum on November 25.

The referendum, if it garners two-thirds of the popular vote, will give the Government authority to bring into law a new constitution.

Against the backdrop of Sir James re-entering the political arena last Tuesday night, followed by a day of debate on the Referendum Bill last Wednesday, all 15 elected representatives of the House of Assembly voted late Wednesday evening for its passage.

The NDP, however, has declared its intention to vote ‘no’ in the referendum against the proposed Constitution, even though it supported the bill. Eustace said they took this stance as a result of several unresolved “fundamental differences” with the Government.

On Wednesday, Gonsalves said of Sir James’ return to the platform: “The person whom [Eustace] brought to support him has in fact undermined him.”

In fact, he said, Sir James’ position on the proposed Constitution contradicts that articulated by Eustace.

According to the Prime Minister, Sir James has made it clear that term limits for a Prime Minister are unworkable in the existing parliamentary system, as distinct from one with an executive presidency.

Yet, the Opposition Leader is insisting that these “unworkable, impractical, and undemocratic term limits should be put in place”, even though strategically he and Sir James should be sharing the same position if they are advocating that Vincentians vote “no”.

“In fact, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition says that one of the major reasons that he is urging ‘no’ is that the current Constitution doesn’t have term limits. Sir James is saying you can’t have term limits in the parliamentary system that we have,” Gonsalves said.

He added that Sir James’ apprehension about removing the Queen as head of state contradicted Eustace’s stand.

Earlier the Prime Minister made it clear he was not fazed by Sir James’ pending return to the political arena.