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Ralph Gonsalves should be referred to as PM – Maule

Ralph Gonsalves should be  referred to as PM – Maule

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Dr Ralph Gonsalves is the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and there is no reason why he should not be referred to as such.

Former speaker of the House of Assembly Monty Maule, who moderated the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) budget response earlier this week, made this point Tuesday night, {{more}}saying that our people have grown too disrespectful, generally, and that parliamentarians could help reverse this trend by starting to respect each other.

“I understand and I appreciate your concerns, your contentions, and everything else that is happening now with respect to the last general elections and your decisions to protest and all that. I appreciate that, but I see no reason why Mr Gonsalves should not be referred to as prime minister, he is for all legal and practical purposes the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines; there must be a government otherwise, there will be anarchy,” Maule said.

The leadership and some members of the NDP have refused to accept the results of the December 9, 2015 general elections and since then, have mounted several protests, including boycotting sittings of the House of Assembly. They also say the government is illegitimate and refuse to refer to Gonsalves as the Prime Minister.

On Monday and Tuesday this week, the NDP held what they referred to as “the people’s budget” at Frenches House, at which they presented their response to the 2016 Budget that had been presented in Parliament by the Government from February 22 to 24.

Maule, though standing in as moderator of the NDP sessions last Monday and Tuesday, said he wanted to make it clear that the office of the Prime Minister must be respected.

“… until such time that the court has ruled one way or the other and this situation is normalized, I feel strongly and this is my view, that there is nothing wrong and much to be gained by respecting the office of prime minister and those appointed to carry on the business of the executive branch of government…”

Maule said during introductory remarks on Monday afternoon that it was with humility and some trepidation, given the political realities in the country, that he accepted the invitation to moderate.

“The persons making presentations today and tomorrow are honourable members of the branch of government of St Vincent and the Grenadines and servants of the nation. As a former speaker of the House of Assembly, I would have preferred, therefore, if their response to the budgetary proposals were made in the House of Assembly.”

Maule said he would have preferred not to be the one asked to moderate the proceedings; however, in the interest of democracy, he felt constrained to accept the invitation.

“Moreover, like any proud serious Vincentian, I am deeply concerned about the present political situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I trust that it is understood that for the same reasons, had the situation been reversed politically and I had been asked, I would felt similarly constrained. I am not a member of any political party, nor am I involved in any partisan politics. However, I am well acquainted with persons actively involved in both political parties here and consequent upon these excellent relationships, I remain confident that there are still several well-meaning upstanding men and women involved in the partisan politics of our nation and I wish all of them well as they continue to give themselves in the service of the country.”

He, however, said in their deliberate judgement, the NDP contend that the parliamentary elections held on December 9, 2015 were not free and fair and have taken the legal avenue available for redress in such circumstances and presented certain petitions to the court for review.

“Meanwhile, they decided among other protest action not to participate in the parliamentary debate in the 2016 budgetary proposal presented by the Honourable Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“I am confident that the findings, rulings and admonition of the court in due course will reveal truth, vindicate the innocent, inspire confidence in our democratic institutions and enable a swift return to normalcy,” said Maule, who is also a lay preacher in the Methodist Church.

He said we are still a democratic nation and the right to dissent and to protest legally at any level is enshrined in the title deed of freedom possessed by every citizen.(LC)

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