Woman in custody after attack on Gonsalves

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent:

A senior government minister yesterday said that a woman has been detained by police regarding the injuries sustained by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves when he was struck on the head with an object as he walked through an opposition- and trade union-organised protest on Thursday.

Urban Development, Energy, Airports, Seaports, Grenadines Affairs and Local Government Minister, Julian Francis, speaking in Parliament during the early hours of Friday morning, said that the incident cannot be described as “an accident”.

The police have not issued any statement regarding the detention of anyone in connection with the injuries to Prime Minister Gonsalves, but Francis told legislators that the woman, whom he did not identify, was already in police custody “ and begging to go and apologise to Dr. Gonsalves”.

“I say no apologies. Apology for what? Because you get lock up you want to apologise? No, go and apologise to Dr (Godwin) Friday (Opposition Leader). You can’t go in front my political leader,” said Francis, who is also the general secretary of the ruling Unity Labour Party and a cousin to Gonsalves.

Francis warned that, while Dr. Gonsalves “is a man who does get soft sometimes …I don’t want to see this thing repeated.”

“I am appealing to the leader of the political party called the New Democratic Party (NDP), Dr. Godwin Friday, to control your people on the road. Control them. The four kings can’t run this country. There are kings and there are queens. Sometimes you don’t even know which is which, especially in that group there,” Francis said.

Prime Minister Gonsalves is due to undergo further medical treatment in Barbados, and, according to his son, Camillo, who is also the finance minister, it was “necessary to fly the prime minister to Barbados to receive an MRI, consequent on the injuries”.

“I want to say that, clearly, this is not some scratch. This was an attempt on the prime minister,” said the finance minister, adding, “I want to thank, on behalf of the government, Prime Minister (Mia) Mottley and her team in Barbados, for making the necessary arrangements tonight to fly the Honourable Prime Minister to Barbados to receive that MRI. That is the seriousness we are talking about today,” he said.

Earlier, a government statement had indicated that Gonsalves, 74, would remain in hospital here overnight after he was struck with an object during protests that had been organised by the main opposition New Democratic Party and two public-sector unions, as their supporters took to the streets to condemn proposed changes to the Public Health Act.

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