Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has warned that his ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) that was returned to power with a greater majority in Thursday’s general election will not allow for anyone “to alter the verdict of the people”.
Gonsalves, 74, issued the warning at a ULP’s victory rally in Arnos Vale, St Vincent and the Grenadines, on Friday night as a recount in the North Leeward constituency ended in the early hours of Saturday.
Gonsalves led the ULP to a 9-6 victory over the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and in the process registered his record-breaking fifth consecutive victory at the polls. In the last two general elections, the ULP had won by a slender one-seat majority in the 15-member Parliament.
“I advise with all solemnity that they must put their personal agendas aside, put their hunger and thirst for power, to lay them down, and to accept defeat.”— Gonsalves
“There are some, now that the elections are over, who may seek, by means largely ignoble, to alter the verdict of the people. I advise with all solemnity that they must put their personal agendas aside, put their hunger and thirst for power, to lay them down, and to accept defeat, in the famous words of Sir Louis Straker, you must take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves told party supporters.
“I warn that those who take the people’s patience for granted are in danger of being gravely mistaken,” Gonsalves said, telling the rally that people have delivered a verdict through their vote and the nation must get on with the business of forming a new administration.
He said he would, therefore, attend Government House later on Saturday at the request of the Governor-General to be sworn in as prime minister for a fifth term. He said his cabinet will be announced soon.
In the recount held in North leeward, the ULP’s winning candidate, Carlos James, had his margin of victory reduced to just one vote against the NDP’s Roland “Patel” Matthews.
In preliminary results announced after Thursday’s election, James, who was making his second bid to win the seat, was declared the winner by seven votes.
Matthews, who is seeking a third five-year term, requested a recount of the ballots, is now requesting that McArthur Gordon, the presiding officer in North Leeward, give him reasonable time to decide whether he wants another recount.
Matthews’ request is being made under House of Assembly Elections Rules 42(6) and 42(7), which notes regarding the “Final counting of votes” that a “candidate may, if present when the count or re-count of the votes is completed, require the returning officer to have the votes recounted or again re-counted but the returning officer may refuse to do so if, in his opinion, the request is unreasonable”.