The SVG Christian Council which spearheads the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM) for general elections has received a ‘respectful rejection’ of their concerns raised with the Prime Minister for the upcoming general elections which are expected to be held in December.
The Prime Minister told President Monsignor Michael Stewart in a letter released to the media that:
“nothing has been done by the GOSVG to cause any reasonable, unbiased person to have any doubts about the integrity of any general elections under my watch”.
“And since I am of sound mind, I shall always be mindful of any concerns raised, however unfounded, in fact or law, any of them may be. It does not mean at all that my “mindfulness” suggests any agreement about this or that particular concern which is raised”.
The contentious issues have long been a bug bear of the NMCM and the opposition New Democratic Party. In 2015, the body had complained to the Prime Minister in two letters that they were concerned with the distribution of building materials during the elections campaign.
In its 40-page report following the last general elections, the body said:
“One major area of concern of the NMCM and raised by the general public through calls to the NMCM’s Office was the distribution of building materials under the Government’s ‘Lives to Live’ programme from the Public Works facility at Arnos Vale. It was felt that the distribution at the time could have been interpreted as bribery and using state resources for political campaign”.
“The NMCM sent two letters to the Prime Minister and Leader of the ULP appealing to him to interrupt the programme until after the December 9th elections. Concern was expressed about the timing of the distribution and the volume of the distribution among others. Election, we noted, must not only be free and fair; they must also appear to be free and fair”.
The Prime Minister reassured the organisation that his government remained “as committed as ever to the conduct of free and fair elections, democracy, and good governance in accordance with the Constitution and Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
The issue of radio access has been raised by the New Democratic Party (NDP) recently. Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the NDP Lavern King has said the management of the national radio station NBC Radio 705 has refused to give equal access to NDP President Dr Godwin Friday.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is currently allotted at least 2 hours every Wednesday morning as he delivers weekly updates to the nation.
King and NDP General Secretary Tyrone James said that several messages to the radio station were not acknowledged and promises made to look into the matter have not materialised.
In an August 7th letter to the management of the station, Mr James said:
“Dr. Friday has requested access to the national radio station [NBC Radio705] to communicate to the nation on matters of public interest and importance. He has still not been allowed such access. Indeed, it is noticeable that NBC 705 does not even attend Dr. Friday’s media conferences, despite invitations to do so.”
The National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM) was born in 2000 as a result of the political unrest which evolved following the 1998 General Elections.