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‘I am absolutely satisfied,’ says PM

‘I am absolutely satisfied,’ says PM

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has expressed satisfaction with the actions of the Speaker of the House of Assembly Hendrick Alexander, and police officers stationed at the House, during the confrontation with opposition Parliamentarians earlier this month.{{more}}

“I am absolutely satisfied that the Speaker acted with restraint, acted sensibly,” said Gonsalves at a press conference on Wednesday, March 16, adding that the Opposition had gone to Parliament for a fight.

The Prime Minister was throwing his hat into the ring of debate, surrounding Alexander’s decision to have the entire Opposition forcibly removed from the day’s sitting, along with the subsequent fracas between the officers and the parliamentarians, which resulted in a number of persons allegedly receiving injuries.

Discussing the calls for Alexander’s resignation, Gonsalves noted that two former Speakers, Dennie Wilson and Monty Maule led the charge.

He said he did not speak to Wilson on the matter, as he did not know him.

“But I did call my friend Monty Maule and said ‘please explain to me what Hendrick Alexander ought to have done differently in the circumstances’.”

The Prime Minister chose not to disclose the details of his conversation with Maule, but said they “agreed to disagree very amicably.”

“There is one question that nobody can get around, who opposes Speaker Alexander’s position… should a minority be allowed to subvert the Parliament.

The Parliament is put there by the voters; it’s not just you being in disregard of the Speaker. The Speaker has to maintain order in the House so that the business of Parliament can go on, said Gonsalves.

“If you suspend Parliament for the day, what’s going to happen the next day? Why suspend the Parliament for a whole day, when 32,000 plus people elected in a majority for these persons to go ahead and debate the issues in the House?”

Gonsalves said that there is nowhere in any part of the world where the Opposition’s actions would be accepted in the Parliaments of those countries, and certainly not in Westminster, he said, adding “the mother of all Parliaments, under which ours is modeled.”

Regarding the accusations of excessive force used by members of the Royal St.Vincent and the Grenadines Police who were stationed in the House on that day, the Prime Minister said that he thought the police acted with restraint, reasonably and “proportionate to what was at hand.”

He said that while he saw members of the Opposition physically assaulting police officers, he did not see officers hit anyone, but was not aware of what transpired when the Opposition members were removed from the chamber.

“I can only tell you what I saw when they (the police) were pushing them out under the orders of the Speaker…. I don’t know what transpired on the outside,” said Gonsalves.

“I know that I saw a lot of acting on the ground outside…. I saw man answering phone… people lying in particular kinds of position and so on.”

“As to issues of injury, when people got their injury, whether they had pre-existing injury… I don’t know.”

The Prime Minister said that the behavior of the Opposition, which he described as “serial dishonesty,” is taking away from the reality that there are more pressing issues to be dealt with on various levels, and that inevitably, a continuation of these actions will lead to violence.

“The sad thing about this is as though we are not reeling from an economic meltdown internationally; that we have all the additional challenges which are taking place in oil prices and commodity prices…. These are questions that we have to be in tuning ourselves to and addressing,” said Gonsalves.

He warned: “Mark what I say to you, there are elements in any protest, when that protest gets no support and when the protest has no real basis, there are elements in it who inevitably move to violence; you can call it the Iron Law of Protest; and all it requires is somebody along the way to say ‘Do that.’”

“That’s where the danger is to the peace and harmony of the country.”

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