Sunset Legislation delayed by bomb threat

Kingstown, St Vincent, October 27, 2006 – The reading of the Sunset Legislation to facilitate World Cup Cricket 2007 was delayed due a bomb threat against the Vincentian Parliament.

The Prime Minister and other members and staff of the House of Assembly were hustled from Parliament buildings Wednesday evening as security services swept the entire area for explosive devices after a telephone threat was made.

It caused a delay in the introduction of several pieces of Value Added Tax legislation as well as the Sunset Legislation to enable the hosting of Cricket World Cup 2007. The country has until November 1, 2006 to pass the law.

It is the first time that such a threat has been made against the Vincentian Parliament and the authorities took no chances though Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hendrick Alexander, said if left up them they would have ignored the threat and resumed business.

“As it is known yesterday that I would have come back here in Parliament but I understand the opinion of others including the police and other honourable members who wanted to say safety first and I appreciate that point and I would not buck it but for myself I would stare them down and take the risk. but I am aware that there is another view which is not an unreasonable view and the matter has therefore resulted in us having through the authority of the Speaker to suspend the sitting yesterday,” Gonsalves said Thursday when the House resumed for an unscheduled sitting.

Calling the prank a product of a “sick mind” he also promised that the hoaxer will be tracked down and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“Mr Speaker this idle mischief making is frowned upon and opposed and condemned by all right thinking people in this country. We have some sick copycatters in this land to inconvenience the highest political decision making authority. It is a mark of the time, perhaps, in which we live but there can be absolutely no excuse, no justification  for this conduct which is clearly illegal. It is a crime against the law of this land for such mischief making to be carried out.

“I want to assure this Honourable House and all Vincentians that the police service and all allied authorities will do all within their power to find out the source of this hoax.

“In the current state of the law it may be difficult to find the source but it is not impossible,” said the prime minister.

St Vincent and the Grenadines was among seven of the nine CWC 2007 hosts which had not passed the legislation and the Caribbean CWC 2007 boss Chris Dehring warned that until the law comes into force on November 1 the International Cricket Council reserved the right to transfer the games to South Africa.

Gonsalves said that there were two major security concerns in the proposed bill for St Vincent and the Grenadines however given the option of a move to South Africa the government will pass the legislation.