|Gonsalves was not meddling, says PNP
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
|GONSALVES ... criticised for comments at PNP rally|
CHAIRMAN of the ruling People's National Party, Robert Pickersgill, said Vincentian prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, was not meddling in Jamaican politics when he spoke about the leadership qualities of party president, P J Patterson, at a recent PNP rally in St Catherine.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister described Patterson as a regionalist and urged the electorate to re-elect his PNP in the upcoming general elections, due by year-end.
But Gonsalves has been criticised by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party and political commentators, who claimed that his support and endorsement of Patterson was ill-timed in light of the upcoming general election.
However, Pickersgill said: "The fact is political parties in the Caribbean have their sister parties and it is also the case that both the JLP and the PNP have such sister parties not only in the Caribbean but in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. From time to time persons holding high political offices have addressed party conferences without any criticism from the populace," Pickersgill said in a statement.
The party chairman also noted that at least one prime minister in the region publicly criticised government policy at a function at the University of the West Indies over the weekend where he was a guest "and at that time there were no howls and the government did not make any accusation of outside interference".
Said Pickersgill: "Within the Caribbean Community, comments are going to be made which will reflect views related to individual country leaders and country policies. Prime Minister P J Patterson has held the office of chairman of Caricom and is now chairman of the Prime Ministerial Subcommittee on External Negotiations, therefore his leadership is scrutinised by his colleagues and within that context I would have thought that they are free to endorse or criticise," Pickersgill said.
He added that he was pleased that the PNP's leader was held in such high esteem in the region and that this augurs well for Caribbean unity and in particular the establishment of the Single Market and Economy which is the bedrock for Jamaica and the region's integration into the world economy.