Address to the Nation by Prime Minister Anthony on Date for General Elections 2001
Announcement of Elections to the Nation
By Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony
Sunday 11th November 2001
People of St. Lucia
Sisters and Brothers
Mé fwè èk sè, mamay Sent Lisi.
Almost five years ago, as we stood in the morning of the new Millennium, the people of St. Lucia were faced with a major historical decision. The election of 1997 was about having to make fundamental choices about the kind and quality of leadership that our country would have as we entered the new Century. All of us knew – even if we could not fully visualize it – that this new age would be a time of challenge and difficulty for developing countries and for small states in particular. As the election results of that historic year confirmed, most St. Lucians had made up their minds that things could no longer be done in the old way, that the business of their country could not be conducted as usual. St. Lucians had grown weary with a regime that was nepotistic, devoid of new ideas and unable to cope with the challenges of the future.
When the people exhaled on May 23rd 1997, they swept away 30 years of an ingrained political culture that, while having served the needs of the past was no longer adequate for the future.
Any objective and comparative assessment of the history of the last four and half years would reveal that no previous administration has had to contend with so many expectations while facing such wildly fluctuating fortunes. We inherited the economy at the point when it was being subject to the most devastating shocks from the international marketplace and when our options as a nation were already significantly reduced. The option of this administration to take care of the most vulnerable, to encourage the belated emergence of national competitiveness – in other words, to confront the realities of the market while seeking to protect local potential – was not something that was easily acceptable to those who had grown fat from the privilege of the past.
And so, at every turn since our accession to office, we have been subject to the most unrelenting criticism that any administration has ever faced. We were criticized for what we did, for what we failed to do, for what they would have wanted us to do, and for what we could not possibly have done. Inspite of the fact that throughout the campaign we warned of difficult choices having to be made, of the need for fundamental changes in the ways in which we have conducted our affairs in many areas, some have made it appear that the government was the source of all problems.
Obligasyon gouvèdman nou sé pou pwan ka péyi Sent Lisi adan an tan ki ni plis compitisyon an pami sé péyi laté-a. Nou éséyé fè tout sa. Mé i sanm toupatou nou tounnen, nou ka jwenn kwitiché. Moun kwitiché nou pou sa nou fè, pou sa nou pa fè, pou twavay nou té vlé fè, èk pou sa ki pa té posib.
Notwithstanding these orchestrated and unrelenting attacks, this government proceeded to do the things that we felt had to have been done, and to take the measures that we knew had to be implemented if we were to make a difference to the future. Some of these measures were difficult ones but we were convinced of their long-term correctness. Some of the initiatives were compassionate ones because we were always convinced of the responsibility of government to protect the weak and vulnerable. Some of the measures were necessary but unpopular and we listened to the people’s feedback and modified them.
We have done much at the level of legislation and in our manner of governance to strengthen and deepen democracy in our country. The many pieces of legislation that now enshrine the rights of citizens to have their concerns addressed whether business (as in the consumer protection act), or by professional services (as in the Legal Professions Act) or by various services of government (as in the Education Act) are testimony to this. We passed legislation for employers to recognize trade unions, to ensure that women workers enjoy the same rights as men and to make it possible for every worker to enjoy a decent minimum wage. The many consultations that have become features of policy formulation in many sectors and the ways in which public opinion have influenced their outcomes (as in the Education and Health sector plans, the Youth and Sports Policies) demonstrates the commitment of this government to a stronger democracy.
Nou pasé an pil lwa pou fè lavi Sent Lisyen pli menab. Délè twavay la pa té populè mé i té nésésè. Nou fè lwa nèf an ling endikasyon, an manyè pou kondwi twavay kay lodians èk avoka, épi pou asisté moun ki ka antwé an lopital. An misyon sala, nou toujou asiz èk kozé èvèk pèp la.
Our efforts to steer this country along a steady path of economic rationality in the face of the turbulent international environment was not helped by the political instability brought on by personal political ambition. Taking advantage of the absolute freedom of criticism and of speech that now exists, the enemy within enjoined with those already rejected by the people’s will to mount new challenges. It is instructive that those who had been re-embraced in the name of national unity and national purpose into a government with a solid mandate abandoned this cause in the pursuit of singular ambition.
The difficulties that we have all experienced as global realities sink home together with the sense of frustration experienced by those who expected to see the emergence of a viable opposition has led to a deep cynicism among some sections of the population.
We have warned the opposition to put its house in order. They have claimed that they are ready. The country has to make preparation for the clearly more difficult economic times ahead. Government needs to build on the economic initiatives made to date as for example our series of consultations and measures put together with key players in the tourism sector to address the economic downturn. There are too many urgent decisions to be made and we cannot put St. Lucia through any period of uncertainty while it waits for election.
On the one hand, the Opposition has for some time now been calling on government to hold elections yet on the other hand, their fragmentation and recurring disunity makes a mockery of their call. We all have a responsibility to the future viability of democracy in this beloved country of ours to ensure that our electoral process remains the most respected, and fully utilized means of expressing the sovereign will of the St. Lucian people.
There was a time in our history when the sacred right to vote was restricted to men of property. As in many other parts of the world, many sacrificed and many died in the fight for the right to have their voices and wishes heard by democratic means. The right to vote is a serious fundamental human and political right that is not given but was fought for. In 1951 – exactly fifty years ago – the working people of St. Lucia first exercised that right and thus made our first steps as a sovereign people in a modern world.
Today, fifty years later we are again faced with as momentous an opportunity as was our forefathers. St. Lucia stands at a new intersection of history when so many elements of the past are seeking to direct our future; we stand at an intersection at which the choice of the right leadership will fundamentally affect the direction in which we head; we stand at an intersection of decision-making when we must ask ourselves whether those who cannot from week to week stand united against something can tomorrow lead us in a united and focused manner towards anything.
Elèksyon sé an bagay ki byen sèwyé, èk tout Sent Lisyen ki an laj, ni dwa pou mété ti kwa yo bay pati politik-la yo vlé an gouvèdman. Mwen ka mandé Sent Lisyen pou katchilé byen, katchilé asou kalité gouvèdman-an ou vlé.
An election at this time is the most honourable manner of consulting the people of St. Lucia on their wishes and my Party and Government has decided that – having diligently discharged our obligations under the Contract of Faith – the time has come to return to the people so that their will and their voice can now be heard. The Voice of the People is said to be the voice of God and having heard for so long the detracting voices of the pedigreed privileged, it is time for the people to assert themselves.
Brothers and Sisters, our country can only go forward in an atmosphere of tranquility. Our difficulties and challenges can only be successfully confronted with unambiguous resolve and political determination. The feverish electioneering and internecine party warfare mounted by certain groups has heightened tension in the country and distracted many St. Lucians from productive endeavor.
The time has come when the off-season carnival that has made a mockery of serious debate must be ended in the interest of maintaining the stability of this country and of preserving the respect that we have engendered among nations.
It is therefore in the national interest that I propose to call this election. I want to see calm restored to our country so that all St. Lucians may hold hands united and enjoy a peaceful, prayerful and enjoyable Christmas and New Year Season.
I have the honor as the Leader of the St. Lucia Labour Party administration to put before you our stewardship and to trust that the people of St. Lucia will – despite the noise around – quietly and dispassionately examine our record of performance in this moment of decision.
I have therefore advised His Excellency the Deputy Governor General to dissolve the Parliament of St. Lucia effective Monday 12th November 2001 and to issue the Writ for the calling of General Elections. Nomination Day will be on Friday 23rd November 2001 and elections will be held on Monday 3rd December 2001 in this the Fiftieth Year of Adult Suffrage.
Nou vlé anpéché fwè èk sè, vwazinaj, èk kamawad an twavay chikanen èvèk yon an lot pou wézon politik. Nou vlé péyi-a twanchil pou nwèl èk joudlan. Pou wézon sa la, mwen kay mandé Gouvènè Gènèwal-la pou fèmé Kay Konsit-la Lendi douz Novanm, (sa sé denmen). Apwé sa, jou nominasyon sé vendwedi vent-twa, Novanm.
Mé fwè èk sè, mamay Sent Lisi, élèksyon kay pwan kou Lendi twazièm Desanmb, lanné sa la. Sa sé mwa pwochen.
The clock has sounded the hour of decision. We pledge to conduct this campaign with respect for differences, with emphasis on our record, with a focus on the challenges of the future. We will seek this new mandate peacefully and with full respect for the people’s wishes. And I call on all contending parties to do the same.
People of St. Lucia the hour of decision has come and I urge all of you to make full use of your sacred democratic right to determine the government of your choice. The right to vote is the right to determine yours and your children’s future – exercise it freely and with careful consideration.
Mwen ka ankouwajé tout pèp la pou sèvi dwa yo pou shwézi an gouvèdman. Sa sé dwa –ou. Fè sa èvèk wéposnsbilité.
Nou ka mandé bondyé pou benni nou, épi won péyi-a la pé.
May God bless us all, protect our country and grant us peace.
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