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Opposition calls Finance Minister to explain himself or resign  

CMC,

Added 16 January 2018

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Camillo Gonsalves. (FILE)

KINGSTOWN – The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) on Monday restated its call for Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves to explain himself amidst the ongoing saga in which former model Yugge Farrell claimed that she was involved in an extra-marital affair with him.

“The principles of decency and good governance in a modern democracy requires that any government minister embroiled in such a salacious scandal must clarify the situation to the satisfaction of the people or resign his position,” the party said in a statement on Monday.

The statement follows calls by party president and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday and party chair, Daniel Cummings, on their radio programmes last week for the finance minister to explain what might have happened between him and the model, who has since been charged with abusing the minister’s wife.

“Such a scandal reflects negatively on the high office of the Minister of Finance and brings it into disrepute. Having failed to clarify the matter, Camillo Gonsalves, who professes to love this country and to respect its people, has but one choice. We, therefore, call on him to do the right and honourable thing and resign,” the NDP said.

The statement from the opposition party comes amidst the ongoing saga which began when Farrell was arraigned on January 4 on a charge that she used abusive language to Camillo’s wife, Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, a Crown counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers.

At Farrell’s arraignment on January 5, Kingstown Magistrate Bertie Pompey granted a prosecution request that Farrell be sent for two weeks of psychiatric evaluation.

The application was granted in the absence of any supporting evidence by the prosecution and in the face of strong protest by defence counsel Grant Connell.

After Farrell’s court-ordered hospitalisation, a number of documents resembling emails, which people circulating them are suggesting were written by Farrell have been circulated.  The documents contain unsubstantiated claims about a number of high-profile persons, including that they have “full blown AIDS”.

Some people have questioned the release of the alleged email in light of the salacious claims made by people who have no known connection to the ongoing saga.

The NDP, on Monday, condemned the release of “private emails into the public domain which has done nothing but obfuscate the issue more.

“The timing of release of these emails and correspondence attributed to Miss Farrell is suspicious and we question the credibility of the leaked documents. If these documents are evidence in the investigation they should be handed over to the police, not circulated over public media,” the party said.

The NDP also pointed to the media report that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Deputy, Sir Louis Straker, have advised Camillo, who is also Member of Parliament for East St George, not to comment on the saga.

“This is an affront as Camillo was elected by the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines and owes the people of this nation an explanation as to his involvement or not. This high-handed approach demonstrates the level of contempt and disrespect that Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP hold for the people of this nation,” the NDP said.

“It is a matter of public interest, and concern and we have been following the matter as it has unfolded in the media and other public forums,” the party said, noting that over a week has passed and there has been no clear statement on the matter by Camillo.

“As a member of Parliament and Minister of Government, Mr Camillo Gonsalves has a responsibility to explain to the Vincentian people what, if anything, he knows about the allegations. It is insufficient for him to respond merely through his relatives and other ULP party surrogates,” the NDP said.

The party said that while the matter has been ventilated in public, the situation remains unclear.

It further said that media reports suggest that Farrell’s rights were violated by the way she was dealt with in court.

The party noted that after being allowed to plead to the charge in the Magistrate’s Court, Farrell was sent on the request of the prosecutor to the mental institution for assessment.

“The reports indicate that the procedure was abnormal as no evidence or information was laid before the Magistrate to support such a decision,” the NDP said.

However, on Tuesday the Prime Minister restated his claim that a magistrate can arrive at a decision in court regarding sending a person for psychiatric evaluation based on information communicated to the magistrate by the prosecution but not relayed to the defence. (CMC)

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