PRIME Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has delivered a scathing response to a letter sent to civil society organisations recently by United Workers Party Leader Allen Chastanet, calling on them to speak out against some recent actions of the government.
Chastanet’s letter referred to such issues as the WalidJuffali diplomatic appointment, and the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP). He said that poor governance by the government was impacting negatively on St Lucia’s reputation in the regional and international community.
Specifically, Chastanet had called for the resignation of Dr. Ernest Hilaire as CIP Chairman and for the revocation of Juffali’s appointment as St Lucia’s representative at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Juffali was recently embroiled in a hotly contested divorce with his ex-wife in which his diplomatic appointment was questioned in the High Court in London. An Appeal court, however, later ruled that his appointment was not relevant to the case.
Prime Minister Anthony this week dispatched letters to the civil society organizations which Chastanet had written to. He accused the UWP leader of attempting to damage the ongoing efforts of the government to attract investment to St Lucia.
Anthony suggested that if Chastanet or his party had issues with the policies of the government, then it was quite in order for the Leader of the Opposition to write to the Prime Minister to express such views.
His letter said: “ It is also perfectly acceptable for the leader of any political party to write to me as political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party to express views on matters of governance or policy.”
But he said it was “simply unacceptable and malicious” for Chastanet to write to numerous civil society organizations presenting concocted claims and stating obvious untruths in his crude attempts to damage the government ofd Saint Lucia and solicit political support”.
With reference to Chastanet’s claim that the CIP withHilaire, a candidate for the ruling party in upcoming general elections as Chairman, meant that there was no doubt that the Labour Party was in control of the programme and that it was not independent and free of political interference, Anthony said he was at a loss to identify any section of the constitution of Saint Lucia which provided that the chairpersons of statutory bodies “must be free of political affiliation”.
He suggested that if Chastanet was correct, then he should have also asked Mrs. Fortuna Belrose, his party’s candidate for Castries East to resign as President of the St Lucia Olympic Committee and regional, Vice President of the Commonwealth Games federation.
“Surely, his logic would mean that the UWP is in control of the Olympic movement in Saint Lucia and that the decisions of the St Lucia Olympic Committee favour only UWP supporters”.
Anthony said up to now the SLP had not asked for Belrose’s resignation and suggested that “that may now change”.
The Prime Minister also took offence to Chastanet’s reference to Arton Capital’s role in supporting an American lobbying firm to assist the government in addressing issues with the United States government relating to the Leahy Law which was invoked in Washington denying assistance to the St Lucia Police Force in the wake of the alleged extra judicial killings of civilians by policemen.
Said Anthony: “ Arton Capital having been granted a licence to market Saint Lucia in formulating its marketing strategy recognized that the Leahy matter has reputational consequences and offered the support of its lobbying partner to assist the government of Saint Lucia at no cost., There is nothing untold and illegal about this collaboration which will favour both parties”