Prove Him Wrong!

IN an age when national security is being weaponized for partisan political reasons, parties and politicians here have adopted the practice of kicking the crime situation with attitudes dependent on whether they are in or out of office, taking turns to explain why more or less persons get killed under their watch.

‘Handling Crime’ has been a recurring decimal in every election campaign since independence with wilder and wilder promises of safer times being made, only for the promises to be broken.

Regime change has seen succeeding governments effectively erase initiatives by their predecessors, including efforts to reduce the number of illegal weapons flooding our communities.

The latest, and indeed any, violent eruption here is a cause for national and regional concern. Saint Lucia has had to rely on regional support to face the deteriorating situation in the Country, including passing new laws to give special emergency powers to police in communities considered requiring more than usual local surveillance and reactive intervention.

The killing hasn’t stopped but there does seem to be a temporary (hopefully permanent) waning in reported violence. This is definitely not a time for careless or uncaring politicians to fan the flames of violence by making inflammatory public statements which could be interpreted as a call to violence against political rivals.

During Guyana’s recent Local Government Elections, the police and other authorities had to deal with a situation where a prominent opposition activist said words publicly that were interpreted by all as a call on the majority of Afro Guyanese soldiers in the Guyana Defense Force to use their arms against the Indian-led ruling party’s political directorate.

That racial call to arms was considered an act of treason and condemned by all sides of the national political spectrum, including the armed and disciplined services, army and police included. The call was entirely rejected as the party the speaker backed was severely beaten at the polls.

In like regard, Acting Police Commissioner Ronald Philip has an immediate challenge on his hands: to prove former Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony wrong in his declared assumption that the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) will do nothing in response to the clearly irresponsible statements made by former MP and Cabinet Minister, Peter Josie, at a recent Press Conference of the United Workers (UWP).

The UWP has made it clear that the former parliamentarian wasn’t speaking on its behalf and has roundly condemned such statements  which they too, agree, can easily be construed as a call to violence.

The Commissioner must, if he hasn’t yet, consider taking immediate steps to consult the legal authorities available to hm to ascertain whether any laws were breached and, if so, what should the response be.

The new acting commissioner has to hit the ground running. His officers have been stretched to their limits and public sympathy and support is with them. There is a recognition, albeit not as vociferous as it should be, of the brave police officers risking their lives against better-armed criminal minds with death in their eyes and placing no value on human life. That sympathy and support must be converted into heightened intelligence gathering the better to stamp out the violence at source.

This is certainly not a time for politicians, whether active or passé to seek political power or making a political comeback to pour fuel on an already raging fire.

Our politicians (on both sides), our police, the churches and, indeed, the whole community must, by their rejection and by their condemnation, show their abhorrence of the language of violence. Incitement has no place here, Mr. Josie.

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