British Virgin Islands

Friday, Sep 24, 2021

Violence Displayed Against Vincentian PM Reprehensible - Premier

Violence Displayed Against Vincentian PM Reprehensible - Premier

Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie has condemned the recent act of violence against Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Premier Fahie said in a live broadcast on Friday, August 6, that he was joining the rest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in condemnation of the head injury the regional leader sustained by a protester while he was on his way to the Parliament.

“The violence that was displayed against Prime Minister Gonsalves was shocking and reprehensible. It has no place in a democratic society,” Premier Fahie remarked.

He continued: “This COVID-19 era is a time for unity and for working together. It is a time for being supportive of each other. There is never a good or a right time for violence – never. We can have our differences without resulting to measures of this level.”

The Vincentian leader was making his way through a mob of angry protesters on August 5 when a missile thrown by a protester inflicted a wound to his head.

According to news reports from the volcano battered territory, the Kingstown protest was against an amendment to the Public Health Bill.

“This is a very short Bill, and there are two sections to it; one is to empower the Chief Medical Officer to be the person who would oversee any exemptions granted to any person in respect of a medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner. An exemption on medical grounds if you are not taking the vaccine,” he said during the Round Table Talk Programme recently.

He continued: “Secondly, to remove, a word ‘voluntary’ by tidying up an amendment that was made on April 9 last year to the principal Act of 1977.”

Hon. Gonsalves then explained that he believes that there is a misunderstanding with the proposed amendments.

“I think the issue which some persons completely misreading what we are doing is that they are saying that this is to make mandatory the vaccine, but that is not the case as I have explained it. Indeed already on the law, there is a provision to make vaccines mandatory; the provision in the 1977 Public Health Act, but we have not used that provision, and we do not intend to use that provision,” he remarked.

Despite his reasoning, some Trade Unionists argued that it was his administration’s way of making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for some category of workers, which has been met with pushbacks from some quarters, which resulted in the protest action.

The Gonsalves-led administration was slated to debate the amendments during Parliament’s sitting on the same day.

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