By Admin. Updated 5:55 a.m. Friday, April 6, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent – Senior Parliamentarian on the Opposition side of the House of Assembly, St. Clair Leacock said that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was “irresponsible” in light of the head injury he received by protestors.
Mr. Leacock, who is member of Parliament for Central Kingstown said, however, that the incident was “unfortunate” and “regrettable”.
Mr. Leacock, who stood in Parliament on August 5, on a point of order relating to relevance, interrupted agriculture minister, Saboto Caesar and asked the speaker of the house to rule on relevance. According to Mr. Leacock, members of the government were insinuating that the leadership of the opposition was responsible for what happened to prime minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Mr Leacock said the presentations by members of the government were “incendiary” and attempted to “tie my democratic right, my parliamentary responsibility to address a crowd, to be responsible for the injury to a prime minister who was also irresponsible”.
“He was irresponsible. He was irresponsible. He was irresponsible and if he was here, I would say that to him,” Mr. Leacock said.
“But, to tie my speaking on a platform to suggest that I am responsible for his injury to which I expressed my own regret….,” he added, before being interrupted by cross talk.
Agriculture minister Saboto Caesar, during his presentation on the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission Agreement Bill said:
“History, 100 years from now, will associate the honourable St. Clair Leacock, the honourable member for Central Kingstown and the honourable Dr. Godwin Friday, member for Northern Grenadines, as being the two leading members of the Parliament who were last seen speaking to what turned out to be the angry mob.”
“The last leader of this country who was attacked was Joseph Chatoyer. Today, we almost saw our prime minister go the way of Toussaint Louverture, Dessalines (referring to Jean-Jacques Dessalines of Haiti who was assassinated)…,” he added, after being interrupted by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Godwin Friday.
Dr. Friday said:
“The mere juxtaposition of someone speaking on a bullhorn to a crowd, which I have done on many occasions, and the injury to the prime minister, to suggest a causation or to imply it is totally false”.
“…Because you would know that all of my comments had to do with the bills that were being debated in the house that I had explained to the people who had come because of that. There was no threat, there was no allegation, there was no any kind of incitement towards the prime minister,” Dr. Friday added.
Minister Caesar responded by saying:
“Madam Speaker, I saw the entire incident and the honourable member can try to runaway, he can try to hide. When you speak to people and people lose control, who do you blame? You blame the people?” Caesar asked.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister on August 5, 2021 stated that:
“On Thursday 5th August, at approximately 5:15pm, the Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves, duly elected Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was physically assaulted and wounded by Opposition demonstrators while attempting to enter the House of Assembly.
Approximately 200 demonstrators, responding to a call to action from the Leader of the Opposition, picketed the Parliament and blocked the entrance to building. When the crowd prevented the vehicle carrying the Honourable Prime Minister from driving through the gate of the Parliament, he alighted the vehicle and attempted to enter on foot.
An Opposition demonstrator then hurled a projectile at the Prime Minister, which struck him in the head, inches above the temple. The Prime Minister, bleeding profusely, was taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital by his security detail, where he was met by his wife.”
But, some persons have taken to task as to whether it was an opposition supporter that hurled the projectile that injured prime minister Gonsalves.
There has been, however, widespread condemnation of the incident by Vincentians of all walks of life on social media.
The parliament met to debate an amendment to the Public Health Bill of 2021 which seeks to make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for some categories of workers.
The protestors say that they were protesting what they deem to be a move by the government to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory.