Jun 15, 2020 News
By Mikaila Prince
De facto President David Grange says that he will not accept the “language” of fellow CARICOM Head of State, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, after comments by the Vincentian head of government last week.
“This is not the type of language,” the President said, “which a head of government would use about any other head of government or any other jurisdiction. That is language you use in a constituency when you’re campaigning.”
Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and incoming Chair of CARICOM, had opined, in speaking about the outcome of the elections, “the loser of the elections must take his licks like a man” during an interview on the radio show, NBC Radio – ‘Your Morning Cup’, in his home country.
“Certainly, as a head of state,” Granger stated yesterday, “I’m not going to accept that type of language. CARICOM as a community of sovereign states has never used that sort of language to describe the Government of Guyana, and I would not describe my invitation or my participation in the agreement for CARICOM to come here which was consensual, it wasn’t unilateral, as being one of interference. It was lawful, in the laws of Guyana, and that’s why they are here.”
During his interview, Gonsalves emphasized that the regional community will not stand idly by and watch the results of the recount be set aside but did not state which party he was referring to when he shared his sentiments.
Granger’s comments comes after the fact that his APNU+AFC Coalition and its leading constituent, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) both responded in separate statements condemning Gonsalves and calling his comments prejudicial. The PNCR, in particular, said that unless current CARICOM Chair and Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, makes a statement, distancing the regional union from Gonsalves’ statement, it would be viewed as an attempt by CARICOM to scuttle the electoral process.
In his interview yesterday, Granger said that the question of CARICOM’s presence “cannot be construed as interference because its role is embedded in law”, as he alluded to the gazetted order which authorized CARICOM’s function in the national recount—an exercise to which the curtains will soon close in on.
The President distinguished this from Gonsalves comments, arguing, “It is a matter of interference if a person, an official of a foreign government describes a process in another country as being an attempt to steal the election, and when people start use language like ‘Be a man, and take your licks’.”
APNU+AFC campaign manager Joseph Harmon launched the first attack on the St. Vincent PM, noting that Coalition finds it “strange and alarming” that Gonsalves would make statements of this nature which closely resembles that of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C). Harmon went on to say, that said, the PM had “taken a public position that is prejudicial to the integrity and eventual outcome of the ongoing national recount of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.”
In response to Harmon’s statements, Owen Arthur, the former Prime Minister of Barbados, and Chief of the Commonwealth Mission to Guyana came to the defense of the Gonsalves, and stressed that he was “in perfectly good order” in his comments.
During an interview on Friday with Kaieteur Radio, Arthur explained, “For someone to attack Ralph Gonsalves for saying that CARICOM would not stand to see an elections stolen because he was speaking in generic way, is that people don’t understand what binds us and that he was perfectly right to say that. To be castigated this way is quite unfortunate.”
Arthur highlighted the need for certain protocols to be obtained and upheld when it comes to who has the authority to scold another Caribbean leader, commands that Harmon does not possess, as the former PM labeled.
“Your leader, [President David Granger] sits in the council with other Caribbean leaders and there have sometimes also where they exchange sharp views, sometimes in public. It can’t be that someone at the level of Mr. Harmon thinks that he has the authority to unleash the kind of vitriolic attack on Caribbean leaders. Harmon is not a Caribbean leader, and your leader should tell Mr. Harmon that he is out of order and he is out of place,” the former PM reminded.
In response, Granger, while on a radio programme on Saturday evening, stated that he stands by Harmon’s statements. As of press time last night, Mottley, who is expected to be in the country this week, had not issued any response to Harmon’s demand that she reprimands Gonsalves.
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