CASTRIES, St. Lucia (CMC)– Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has expressed disappointment with the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) decision to withdraw from bi-partisanship support in parliament over a raft of dismissals of Castries City Council contract workers.
Last week, Opposition Leader Stephenson King announced the UWP was withdrawing its support for joint parliamentary initiatives, including the proposed oversight committee on the Value Added Tax (VAT) system which is to come into effect here on September 1.
King said the withdrawal was in protest against what described as victimisation in the dismissal of over 100 workers contracted by the St Lucia Labour Party-controlled capital city council. The UWP said the city government was targeting known supporters of the opposition party and residents of the constituency represented by its opposition MP Richard Frederick.
Speaking to journalists, Anthony did not deal specifically with the charge of political victimisation but said that despite the withdrawal, he will continue to reach across the aisle on issues of national interest.
“Even if the opposition has decided that it will not cooperate with the government, my government is not going to respond by denying opportunities of cooperation to the opposition.
“We will continue to reach out as this issue goes beyond Kenny Anthony representing the Labour Party and Stephenson King representing the Opposition, the fact is the people of this country want to see political parties work together on issues of major consequence for the country and even if it is repudiated by the other side we will continue to offer the opposition opportunities for cooperation,” Anthony said.
The Prime Minister said that while he continues to strike a conciliatory tone, he warned that the olive branch must not be misconstrued as a pardon.
“The St. Lucia Labour Party never said that it was burying any olive branch over illegality, unlawful behaviour or misdeeds, we have always said where unlawful behaviour occurred we will take action against it.
“Extending an olive branch does not mean that you close your eyes to misdeeds, that are some fundamental issues that fact us and we plan to deal with those in due course,” he said.
But the prime minister despite his call for an end to the opposition’s “injurious behaviour”, he said the government will continue to actively pursue its investigation into the former King administration, which was lost power in the November 29 general election.
Anthony promised the probe would take “a systematic and methodical approach” to ensure that the rights of all individuals are protected.