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NDP supporters block entrance to Government House

NDP supporters block entrance to Government House

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Having refused to concede victory to the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in Wednesday’s general elections, the New Democratic Party (NDP) called out their supporters Thursday, to prevent the swearing in of Dr Ralph Gonsalves as prime minister.

As SEARCHLIGHT went to press {{more}}yesterday, boisterous, angry, yellow-clad supporters of the NDP were on the streets in Central Leeward and at the road leading to Government House, protesting what they have called an injustice.

“No justice, no peace,” the group of about 400 protesters at Government House road chanted, as they were spurred on by NDP activists like Laverne ‘Gypsy’ Phillips.

The Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Dr Ralph Gonsalves had announced that the swearing in of Gonsalves as prime minister, Judith Jones-Morgan as attorney general and Louis Straker as deputy prime minister would take place at 2 p.m. yesterday at Government House.

As police vehicles and high – ranking officials tried to make it to the Government House, NDP supporters, led by Phillips, blocked the road, making it impossible for the vehicles to pass.

The vehicle with Jones-Morgan and her husband and another family member was blocked by the NDP crowd and police quickly surrounded the vehicle, in an effort to secure Jones-Morgan and her family.

At one point another supporter tried to pull Phillips away, but she refused and remained in position stressing that she was passionate about what she was doing.

NDP Activists Colin ‘D Hitman’ Graham and Clemroy ‘Bert’ Francois tried to talk persons into allowing the vehicles to pass, but to no avail.

The arrival of the fire truck also seemed to anger the protesters, some of whom entertained the idea that they were going to be sprayed with water.

The scene was also visited by St Clair Leacock, the NDP’s Central Kingstown representative who asked protesters to be peaceful while exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest.

Leacock also asked assistant commissioner of police Carlos Sampson not to use force to move the persons to which Samson replied that that decision is not something that Leacock could have a say in, but the police would not use unnecessary force. Leacock refused an interview.

With media already in place, the ceremony at Government House was postponed, pending the results of the recount of ballots in North Leeward and Central Leeward.

Victory in eight of the 15 constituencies had been declared for the ULP Wednesday night and Gonsalves, who is the political leader of the ULP, in a statement issued after the final constituency had been announced, asked the nation to come together.

“We ask Vincentians to celebrate this victory in peace and maturity. Now is the time to come together as one nation to address our developmental challenges and move forward to uplift our nation and its people.”

The preliminary count of votes put Central Leeward in the ULP column with 2496 to the NDP’s 2182, while North Leeward has been declared for the NDP with 2259 votes to the ULP’s 2252 votes.

Earlier yesterday, president of the NDP Arnhim Eustace in a call to Nice Radio said he was confident that his party had won the Central Leeward seat and that they had formed government.

“… We won Central Leeward by six votes which means that we won the general elections by eight seats to seven. This morning we were reliably informed that six of the ballot boxes in South Leeward were unsealed and one is missing, the count has not yet started.

It is our understanding that the Unity Labour Party of Ralph Gonsalves is claiming victory. Any such action is a brazen attempt by a dying regime to hold on to power against the wishes of the people. We in St Vincent and the Grenadines will not let this injustice stand; we are calling immediately for a full investigation into the late night activities of Central Leeward and upon behalf of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines we will reserve all our rights in this matter.”

The call for supporters to take to the streets had however been made earlier by NDP activist and managing director of Nice Radio Douglas DeFreitas who said in a broadcast at 6:45 a.m. that supporters should head to the Layou police station where a recount of votes in Central Leeward was to take place.

“Well the NDP is calling for support for people to turn put before 8 am where they would have a recount there in Layou. So, supporters of the NDP you need to go to Layou and let your presence be felt and known.

“…but is my opinion that all these ballot boxes have been contaminated already and we will hang our heads in shame because of this great fraud that has been committed on our people,” DeFreitas said.

Hundreds of supporters answered DeFreitas’ call and congregated at the Layou police station where candidate for the ULP Sir Louis Straker and candidate for the NDP Benjamin Exeter were present, awaiting the beginning of the recount of the ballots.

During the recount process, NDP leader Arnhim Eustace and Straker engaged in a heated argument which was videotaped and published on social media site Facebook. Up to late Thursday, NDP supporters remained gathered in Layou and at Government House where members of the Special Services Unit (SSU), the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Fire Department remained on watch.

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