SENATOR and Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, Jimmy Henry yesterday tendered his resignation.
His resignation came 24 hours after the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) at a press conference called on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to clear the air on allegations that a Minister in his Cabinet was stopped and searched at George F.L. Charles Airport.
“For reasons altogether personal, I have decided to tender my resignation with immediate effect from the Senate and as a Minister. Due to these personal matters at this time, I am unable to give the attention necessary to my ministerial duties,” Henry said in a 96-second video circulated to local media.
Henry did not elaborate on the personal matters that precipitated his resignation.
Since last week, allegations about Henry being stopped and searched at the airport and an alleged sum of cash found on his person have been gaining traction.
Since then, rumours of his resignation surfaced, with government remaining mum on those rumours.
When contacted by reporters, Henry had repeatedly declined comment on the allegations. It was also alleged that Henry was under investigation by police. However, Acting Police Commissioner Milton Desir earlier this week denied that, stating that his office had issued no such directive.
The SLP at its Tuesday’s press conference called on the Prime Minister in particular to say whether it was true that Henry was stopped and searched at the airport.
“If there are allegations that a government minister is under surveillance for a very long time (and) the allegations continue that he was actually stopped at an airport and searched, the Prime Minister of the country must come out and say that is not true, (that) none of (his) ministers are under surveillance, no minister was searched at any airport and, therefore, these are rumours,” said SLP spokesperson and Castries South MP, Ernest Hilaire.
Hilaire said that if the allegations were true, then the Prime Minister must take action because this would be grossly unacceptable.
“All the people are asking is for someone to come and say either it is true or it is not true. But you cannot decide to keep quiet about that,” Hilaire said.
Meanwhile, Henry said he will continue to maintain a keen interest in the development of his community, Dennery North, which he lost to SLP’s Shawn Edward in last year’s general elections.
“I wish to thank my dedicated supporters in Dennery North, who have stood by me through thick and thin. I assure all of you of my confidence in the advancement of our community under the current administration,” he said.
He thanked his former Cabinet colleagues for their guidance and support given over the past year and wished them the best in achieving success. He said he continues to have full confidence in the direction of the government.
He also expressed gratitude to the Government, in particular, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, for giving him the chance to serve in government.
Government, meanwhile, has accepted Henry’s resignation and thanked him for his services to the country.
The statement by government was released by Acting Prime Minister Ezechiel Joseph shortly after Henry released his as Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is on vacation leave. Here is Joseph’s full statement:
“On behalf of the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honourable Allen Chastanet and the Cabinet of Ministers, I wish to state that we have accepted the resignation of Mr. Jimmy Henry as a Senator and as Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, National Resources and Cooperatives.
“I wish to thank Mr. Henry for his service to the People of Saint Lucia, having served as a member of the Senate and as a Minister of Government for the past year.
“Mr. Henry’s work in the community of Dennery North must be commended and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”