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NDP ACTION

NDP ACTION

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Yesterday, throngs of New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters picketed outside Parliament against what Leader of the Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace calls a creeping dictatorship in this country.{{more}}

In a broacast carried on television on Wednesday, January 19 at 8p.m., Eustace and his Vice Presidents St.Clair Leacock and Godwin Friday issued calls for Vincentians to join the NDP on the streets to show support for the maintenance of democracy and people’s rights.

In his plea for support, Eustace told the public that the proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, and section 51 of the Representation of People Act will have a direct effect on them.

“This is not an NDP party issue, this is an issue that affects the entire nation. It affects every single individual in our nation, it affects the rich, it affects the poor, it affects white, black and whatever colour you want,” said Eustace.

Eustace said the Government intends to amend the the laws to avoid having to go court and face the reality of losing any of the cases that were put forward by the NDP in private criminal complaints. Last week, the Chief Magisatrate refused to issue summons for four of the ten charges which were brought before her. The other six were subsequently taken over by the Director of Public Prosecution and discontinued.

Eustace expressed that he found it difficult to understand that one week after the charges were discontinued and the Opposition had expressed interest in appealing them, the laws which allowed for the complaints to be brought to the court were amended.

He said the cases would have implications for the Government and its stay in office.To this end, he said they are being changed to protect the Government’s stay in office.

“In a democratic society, we find this deplorable, I find it very bad, I find it as total nonsense because it takes away the rights of individuals in our society. It takes away your right,” said the President of the NDP.

“In St.Vincent and the Grenadines what we in fact [are] fighting here is a creeping dictatorship of Ralph Gonsalves, a situation in which he seems to see himself as being the only arbiter, the person who will stay in power until he dies. And any legislatation he wants to change to suit his purpose that is what he is trying to do,” Eustace charged.

“I urge you to turnout in your numbers. I urge you to do so. In the Parliament itself our members will be fighting the cause in the debate, we expect can be quite protracted,” said Eustace.

Eustace warned that yesterday’s protest was not the only action that will be taken by the Opposition. He said in subsequent days, the NDP will inform Vincentians of other actions.

Friday said the Opposition will not accept any legislation that takes the country backward. He said it is important that the right of a citizen to bring a private criminal complaint is protected. He said this will guard against a complaint not being dealt with seriously because of the partisan political affiliation of the person in charge of the investigation.

St.Claire Leacock said the public sometimes take things for granted, but the rich legal system that was inherited and the fundamental belief of the primacy of the individual is one that must be treasured dearly and defended.

Leacock called on the ULP administration to rescind all considerations of introducing the amendments.

“It is simply reprehensible that one can be so contemptious at a time like this when they themselves are literally speaking before the court to introduce legislation which at best defined is self serving,” he said.(HN)

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