A woman was arrested on Thursday night in connection to the assault and what is being described as an attempted assassination of Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.
This was confirmed by St. Vincent government Minister Julian Francis who said that there may be more arrests coming.
Gonsalves was struck with a stone just above his temple, during protests in Kingstown at about 5:15 p.m. on Thursday August 5, 2021. He was flown to Barbados that same evening for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or head scan.
According to reports, citizens of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines were protesting an amendment to the Public Health Act which would require front line workers there to take the COVID-19 vaccine or lose their jobs. The government is proposing to remove the word voluntary from a section of the law that speaks to vaccination against an illness that has triggered the declaration of a public health emergency, such as COVID-19.
Gonsalves was making his way back to the House of Parliament in the country’s capital, when he was injured.
A press release from his office credited his injury to opposition demonstrators.
“Approximately 200 demonstrators, responding to a call to action from the leader of the opposition, picketed the parliament and blocked the entrance to the building. When the crowd prevented the vehicle carrying the honourable prime minister from driving through the gate of the parliament, he alighted the vehicle and attempted to enter on foot,” the release said.
“An opposition demonstrator then hurled a projectile at the prime minister, which struck him in the head, inches above the temple. The prime minister, bleeding profusely, was taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital by his security detail, where he was met by his wife,” it continued.
In the release, Gonsalves was said to be recovering but he reaffirmed that “no lawless mob will prevent him from doing the people’s business in the seat of our democracy. “
“The prime minister strongly reiterated his belief in the solemnity of the vote as a cornerstone of parliamentary democracy and basis of governmental legitimacy. In spite of his injuries, the prime minister welcomed all peaceful demonstration as a fundamental right enshrined in our constitution, but cautioned that legitimate peaceful demonstration should in no way impede parliamentarians’ rights of entrance and egress from the House of Assembly,” the release added.
The statement also said that the use of violence in pursuit of political purposes is entirely unacceptable.
“We expect that the perpetrator of the actual act of violence will be brought to justice. Such an act is to be unequivocally condemned. Equally to be condemned are the instigators and back-room authors of this kind of violence,” it stated.
Meanwhile, Minister Francis said that the individual who was arrested had sought to make an apology to the prime minister.
“She wanted to apologize to the prime minister. I said no, she is not going in front of my political leader to do what; because you got locked up, you want to apologize,” Francis said.
After the incident, the island’s Finance Minister Camilo Gonsalves commented in parliament, “I want to say this clearly, this is not a scratch, this was an attempt on the prime minister’s life.”
Moreover, St Vincent opposition, the New Democratic Party (NDP) has condemned the violent incident and called for the perpetrator/s to face the full brunt of the law.
President of the party, Dr. Godwin Friday said, “We categorically reject violence in all forms and certainly, I do not condone such acts. I wish a speedy recovery to the prime minister and the other persons who were injured in the protest. Let us use this sad event to reaffirm that we must never fight hate with hate.”
It is alleged that several other individuals were injured during the fracas. According to News 784, two protestors were also assaulted and battered, with one being rushed to the hospital after sustaining a head injury.
Investigations are still continuing into the incident.