Tuesday, 17 February 2009 05:39
By Dale Herbert
A senior police official has spoken out against the continuing acts of political violence in the lead-up to general elections.
Assistant Commissioner Albert Smith says recent occurrences were reminiscent of the early 1970's election period, when there were a number of mysterious fires at businesses and sugar cane fields.
"It has happened before, and as a matter a fact, it is not as rampant as in that era," the lawman said. "It is a disheartening feeling that Antigua is again becoming such a barbaric state."
Smith added that recent events had sparked fear in many citizens.
"We are regressing to the slavery mentality, when we should be progressing towards becoming a First World country," said Jemail Thomas, a second-time voter. "This just shows how far we have actually come in a claimed-to-be democratic nation."
He said it is high time for candidates on both sides to show some solidarity to indicate to the masses that they are unified against
these acts of violence
Another young woman who preferred to remain anonymous said, "Girl, me so shame to say me a one Antiguan right now right, because Antigua was
never like this from what I can remember during election time."
Meanwhile, a man who called himself Gilbert said, "All of them are bad alike. There is too much politricks, the only bad thing is that innocent people get caught in the crossfire."
Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Bennette recently stressed to key members of both parties the importance of a peaceful campaign trail and smooth general elections. He said chief among his concerns were the safety and security of residents.
"Both parties must understand that they have a responsibility to implore upon their supporters that everyone has the right to freedom of speech, and the democratic right to support their party of choice," Bennette said.
He added that the destruction of political paraphernalia is an offence punishable by law, and said anyone found doing so would be duly dealt with.
More recently, OAS Secretary General Albert Radmin called on citizens to refrain from the violence and vandalism which seem to have taken over the campaign trail, condemning such actions as undemocratic, and a blemish on the nation's reputation.