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‘Let’s not throw a good man under the bus’

‘Let’s not throw a good man under the bus’

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“I’m not condoning Michael Charles wearing red at the public meeting or anywhere else for that matter… but let us not throw a good man under the bus if he feels he made an error in judgment.”

This was the Prime Minister’s response to calls for the resignation of the Commissioner of Police Michael Charles, after he attended a recent Unity Labour Party rally in an all-red outfit.

Addressing the matter on WE FM’s call-in radio programme {{more}}‘Issue At Hand’ last Sunday, October 25, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that senior police officers attending rallies should not wear the colours of the political parties they support, because it is “not wise”, and they should stick to neutral colours instead.

“I know that he is a good and honest and decent policeman,” said Gonsalves, referring to COP Charles. “Michael Charles is a man who holds no political allegiance in his exercise of his functions – I have examples of that over and over again.”

While speaking at the ULP constituency office opening in Marriaqua last Saturday, Gonsalves also addressed the matter.

“The Commissioner of Police explained that he wore the red to blend into the crowd,” he explained.

“It may be that within this period of heightened election campaigning maybe he should give consideration not to wear the red. But the point about it is this: you can’t have a lack of balance and call for the resignation of a good man on that basis…”

The Prime Minister further pointed out that with previous Commissioners of Police, they had been open about their support of the NDP when it was in Government.

“There is a certain self-righteousness about Leacock and Cummings and those people who talk… Randolph Toussaint was known all the time and he wouldn’t hide it; he also told me that he is a Mitchell man, he’s an NDP man. Quow was an NDP man!”

He recalled that when he initially assumed the position of Prime Minister in 2001, former COP Osbourne Quow had been two months away from his retirement.

“Never on any occasion did Quow come to the airport to see me off or to greet me. Not one occasion, though he used to do so for Mitchell and Eustace… I ain’t raise no sweat, I got work to do. I’m a mature man and I have a lot of patience,” he explained.

Speaking on WE FM last Sunday, Gonsalves clarified that although he is asserting that Commissioners of Police in the past have been supporters of the NDP, he is by no means saying that they were partisan in the execution of their functions.

He pointed out: “I never, in my interactions with Mr Toussaint or Mr Quow, before I became Prime Minister, thought that I was dealing with somebody who was not someone who would not take this office seriously. Michael Charles takes his office very seriously.”

The Prime Minister said that he is of the belief that the Opposition is trying to use this situation with the Commissioner of Police to cast the ULP in a negative light.

The Prime Minister further posited that although he believes it is best for senior police officers attending political rallies to wear neutral colours, this would not be the case for his personal security.

“It is better for them to wear red, a red jersey and black pants, because they could easily mingle to be able to protect the Prime Minister.”

He added: “At the end of the day, it all comes down to judgment.” (JSV)

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