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Senator Francis calls on NDP chairman to withdraw statements

Senator Francis calls on NDP chairman to withdraw statements

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Opposition Senator and Chairman of the New Democratic Party Dr Linton Lewis says he sees no reason to apologize for statements made on radio last week.{{more}}

Lewis told SEARCHLIGHT that he was merely calling for an end to political strife, and would not submit to the call by General Secretary of the Unity Labour Party Julian Francis for him to withdraw statements he made on WE FM on Thursday, April 11.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about. I didn’t make any statements to that effect to make anybody apologize. If I say that the way they behaving, they encouraging people to beat up people, they must stop, what is wrong with that? Lewis asked.

“What is wrong with saying the ULP (the Unity Labour Party) must stop encouraging their people to call in on radio and pull people down and cause confusion, what is wrong with that? Nothing is wrong with that… have they ever apologized for anything?”

Francis, during a radio talk show on STAR FM on Tuesday night, said that after hearing Lewis’ comments, and discussions with political leader Dr Ralph Gonsalves, he wrote to Secretary General of the New Democratic Party Allan Cruickshank, calling for the NDP to rebuke Lewis for what he had said.

When he spoke on radio last week, Lewis said: “I do not know how we don’t have more political killings in this country, because of the type of strife and wars that is encouraged every single day by the Unity Labour Party.”

Francis described Lewis’ statement as ridiculous, out of place, outrageous and inflammatory.

“To say that such statements have crossed the borders of political commentary, on public talk radio, would be a gross understatement,” Francis wrote to Cruickshank.

“Indeed, the statement may even have very serious implications…. Talk shows since then have been dominated by these statements which, if left unattended and not withdrawn, could have negative effect on the political temperature.

“I appeal to you as Secretary General to have your party reprimand Dr Lewis, and have him publicly withdraw the statements, and give an apology to the leadership and supporters of the Unity Labour Party, and the nation as a whole, trusting your party will see the seriousness of these statements and act accordingly.”

Francis, the Minister of Transport and Works, said that the matter has been also brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the head of the National Reconciliation Committee by way of letter.

“Things have been said in the past, and things will be said in the future, but… if you do that you are inflaming the feelings of the supporters of the ULP and I really want to suggest that the NDP should take this matter seriously, and really have a heart-to-heart talk with the chairman of the party and insist that these statements are really unworthy… they should never cross over the border of political discussion.”

Dr Lewis, further responding to Francis, said that there was no avenue for legal action to be brought against him, for simply stating facts and calling for an end to discrimination.

“Was there any case brought against the person(s) who beat up “Bigger Biggs”?

“When Bigger Biggs got beaten up… when their minister of government stood there and watch it happen… did anybody apologize for that?

“What is wrong with someone calling on persons to stop behaving the way they are, and stop causing political strife?” Lewis questioned.

“You must listen to that Star FM programme every morning, and you will hear how they behave…. Somebody called and spoke to an NDP person on the radio, and they would call the person’s phone and threaten them. So, I’m saying that they must stop encouraging that. Whether the ULP or NDP, it must not be encouraged. They must stop.”

SEARCHLIGHT also spoke to Allan Cruickshank, secretary general of the New Democratic Party. He said that he was told that a letter had been left for him at NDP headquarters, but up to press time Wednesday, he had not received nor read it, so was unable to comment on its contents.

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