Opposition protesters detained in St Vincent

NDP leader Arnhim Eustace

Nine people were arrested Wednesday after police said they refused to observe regulations regarding protesting near buildings in which the head offices of government ministries are located.

The protesters, supporters of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), were picketing outside the Electoral Office in the capital, where daily demonstrations have taken place since the December 9 general elections.

The arrest came one day after police removed barriers that they had erected near the Electoral Office since late December when the protest began.

NDP supporters have claimed that the general election was rigged in favour of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. The ULP won eight of the 15 seats in the general election.

Charles said that police decided to remove the barriers on Tuesday because they were an inconvenience to business owners in the area, who had to park elsewhere.

He said while the police had decided that they would not prevent people from protesting, “they would have to protest as if the barriers were there”.

NDP leader Arnhim Eustace has since called on supporters to protest.

Speaking on the NDPs radio programme, Eustace said he regards the action of the police as “reprehensible”.

“And we have to response,” Eustace said, adding that lawyers for the NDP were dealing with the arrest of the protesters.

He said the protesters were “exercising rights which have been guaranteed under the constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines and other laws.

“The action taken today requires us to make a response in the New Democratic Party. And I am calling on our members, wherever you are, in whatever constituency you reside to come back to that spot tomorrow morning and continue the protest.

“As president of the New Democratic Party, I am asking all of our people who can make it to come into Kingstown tomorrow (Thursday) to protest the action taken by those in authority,” he added.

Eustace also noted the hearing in the ejection petitions filed by the NDP will begin on Thursday.

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