OECS congratulates Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

(Antigua Observer) The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has congratulated Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on his “re-election to the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines” even as it said it has taken note of the “allegations being made in respect of the conduct” of the December 9 general election.

Gonsalves led his Unity Labour Party (ULP) to an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office, but the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) headed by economist Arnhim Eustace says it will not accept the results contending that the polls were rigged in favour of Gonsalves.

Eustace announced earlier this week that the party had written to the leaders of the OECS “formally complaining about the illegitimate installment of Ralph Gonsalves as Prime Minister.

“We have asked for the use of the regional mechanism to ensure that democracy is saved and protected in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said, adding “we are moving to challenge these flawed elections in the court where we are confident of legal redress”.

The NDP lost the last two general elections here by a similar margin of 8-7 and Eustace said “in the interim we will continue acts of civil disobedience and non-recognition of this imposed regime”.

But in a statement signed by Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is also the Chairman of the sub-regional grouping, the OECS said that its members “have had a proud tradition of upholding the democratic process, and this tradition is reflected in the vigorous exercise of the people’s will in the maintenance as well as in the changing of governments.

“The OECS has taken note of the recently concluded general elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and extends its congratulations to the people and their political parties on the conduct of an incident free and peaceful election. We extend our congratulations to Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves and his team on their re-election to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Mitchell said that the “OECS has noted with concern the allegations being made in respect of the conduct of the elections. We are also aware of the pronouncements of the observer missions mounted by CARICOM and the OAS.

“We accordingly urge that all parties maintain the public calm and follow the constitutionally established processes for the orderly resolution of any electoral dispute.

“The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines deserve nothing less,” Mitchell added.

Earlier this week, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) congratulated Gonsalves saying that the victory of the ULP “is a clear demonstration that the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have continued confidence in your leadership and the ability of your government to maintain the progress achieved and to guide them safely through the challenging times which now prevail.

“The Caribbean Community will continue to benefit from your wise counsel and experience as one of the longest serving members of the Conference of Heads of Government. As Secretary-General, I have come to value highly the insights you have shared with me and the guidance that you have so often generously provided ”CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said.

The 15-member regional integration movement had sent a mission to observe the polls. It was one of three regional and international groupings that were here for the election that the NDP said was rigged in favour of the ruling party.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a member of both the CARICOM and OECS groupings.

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