KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – Scores of opposition supporters stormed the front gate of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament today demanding that the Ralph Gonsalves administration withdraw two pieces of legislation they claim would infringe their democratic rights.
The protest followed the first and second reading of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Code Bill and the Representation of the People Amendment Bill.
The opposition contends that the government is pushing through the legislation that would presvent citizens from seeking to take legal action in private capacities unless they have the approval of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
Last month, the DPP, Colin Williams, discontinued the private prosecution brought by three candidates for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in relation to allegations of “character assassinations” during the election campaign in December.
The demonstrators forced many government legislators to be marooned in the parliament compound while Prime Minister Gonsalves and Works Minister Julian Francis were forced to leave the building through a side gate.
Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace and members of the main opposition NDP addressed the protestors urging them to keep up their protest.
But on the resumption of Parliament, Gonsalves said that democracy is alive and well in the country and that his administration, which enjoys a one seat majority following the last December general elections, would not be browbeaten by persons who break the law.
He said that he left the building by the side gate because a police vehicle was blocking the main entrance but he returned through the main entrance since he was sending a message that he would not be intimidated by any unruly bunch of people, who wish to ignore that his administration was duly elected last month.
But opposition legislator St. Clair Leacock said that Gonsalves had been boasting that his administration came to power by virtue of the road block revolution in 2000-200, evoking tumultuous applause from the gallery forcing the Speaker Hendrick Alexander to order that the “Strangers’ Gallery” be cleared.
He also suspended the sitting for a brief period and on its resumption, the Prime Minister reminded legislators that the demonstrators were breaking the law by not being more than a 100 yards away from the Parliament compound.
He told the session that he was also being disturbed by the voice of the opposition legislator Vynette Fredricks who was addressing the demonstrators outside. (CMC)