Statement by Hon Gaston Browne Chair of CARICOM Heads of Government

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As chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and in my own capacity, I condemn the physical assault upon the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves during a protest organised by the opposition political party. The assault was serious and almost fatal. As it is, Dr Gonsalves injury to his head is still being medically assessed. The introduction of violence into the political life of CARICOM is shameful and deplorable and those responsible for it must be brought to justice with all due dispatch. The assault is all the more shameful because it occurred as the Prime Minister was walking into the national parliament, the highest law making body of the State where a robust debate was taking place in full regard for democratic principles of dissent and discussion. There is no place for violence and personal physical assaults in our CARICOM democracies where the rule of law prevails and rights, including the right to peaceful protests are fully upheld. All law abiding and well thinking people of CARICOM should join in resolution that such gratuitous violence will not be tolerated in our peaceful societies. Our prayers are with Dr Gonsalves for a speedy recovery. He has been and remains an invaluable Caribbean son and leader, deserving of the greatest respect.

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