Recount on in St Vincent, but Gonsalves to be sworn in
KINGSTOWN – The leader of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) Dr Ralph Gonsalves is to be sworn in as prime minister of this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country on Thursday even though opposition supporters staged demonstrations claiming that Wednesday’s general election had been rigged in his favour.
Gonsalves, who won an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office, will be sworn in at 2 p.m. even though the leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace told reporters he had asked the Governor General not to swear in the 69-year-old Gonsalves.
Eustace, 70, told reporters the NDP, which, according to preliminary results won seven of the 15 seats in Wednesday’s general elections, “would never accept the results of the elections”.
Eustace, who is heading the party supporters in the Central Leeward constituency where a recount of the ballots case is taking place, said his candidate Benjamin Exeter had won the poll even though the preliminary results gave former foreign affairs minister Sir Louis Straker victory.
“As I mentioned before there are irregularities, there are ballot boxes that are not sealed both here and in North Leeward and we are not conceding, we are not accepting the results.
“We are standing firm (and) until we get a very clear picture, he (Gonsalves) should not be sworn in today because the results of the elections are not final,” he told reporters.
The NDP supporters clad in their yellow jerseys claimed that several ballot boxes were missing and were demanding that either the Electoral Office do over the poll in that constituency or announce that Exeter had won the election.
At one stage, there was a close confrontation between Sir Louis and Eustace with the police having to intervene to keep the two veteran politicians apart.
Sir Louis had criticised the decision of Eustace to bring supporters to the police station where the re-counting is taking place, but Eustace insisted that he was right since the ruling party had conspired to cheat the population of its victory.
The re- count is still in progress. (CMC)