PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet has refuted accusations levelled against his administration by the opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) claiming that the extension to the State of Emergency (SOE) was a mere ploy to gain political advantage.
Legislators from opposing sides met this week to ‘iron out’ their differences on the implications of an extension to the SOE, as the country steps up its campaign in the fight to combat the COVID-19 virus.
“The moment that we re-introduced the state of emergency …we were able to now bring our numbers back down,” said Chastanet.
Following a sudden spike in early January, an SOE was introduced from February and extended through the Easter holidays. Health authorities reported that this exercise resulted in a huge reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases on island.
Questioning the SLP’s position on the extension for the SOE, the government leader said that the opposition were being callous with their ‘people first’ slogan. He insinuated that they were more concerned with contesting the upcoming general elections than looking after the welfare of the people.
“Their concern is whether the state of emergency is going to impede or derail the ability to have what they consider to be a normal election,” Chastanet declared.
The prime minister quipped: “How is the state of emergency going to stop the election from taking place? Since when does a state of emergency affect it (elections), when in St Kitts they had a state of emergency? Did it affect them in having elections; when Jamaica had a state of emergency, did it affect them having an election?”
He added that Trinidad and Tobago were also able to hold their elections while the country was under an SOE.
Chastanet said that since the SOE does not impede holding elections, the governing side attended the house sitting “to support a state of emergency, because we still have cases.”
“Up until October, 2020 and given …that we had opened our economy and had people coming here and we were able to keep our numbers at what they were , St Lucia was the best prepared in the entire Caribbean,” he said.
Chastanet has assured that the SOE would not be used as a ruse to gain political mileage and that the SOE was to safeguard the citizenry and get the country back onto a solid footing.