The Government of Saint Lucia is still upbeat despite losing two of its ministers while in office, in less than three years.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told reporters that he is not worried about the resignations because of the circumstances under which they took place.
One year after the United Workers Party (UWP) under Allen Chastanet won the 2016 general elections, Senator and Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jimmy Henry resigned.
His resignation came amid calls by the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party for Prime Minister Chastanet to clear the air of allegations that one of his Cabinet ministers was stopped and searched at the George F.L. Charles Airport.
Henry, at the time, said he resigned for personal reasons, which prevented him from devoting the necessary attention to his duties as a Senator and a Minister.
When Henry handed in his resignation, Prime Minister Chastanet was reportedly off island. Ezechiel Joseph was at the time holding the Prime Ministerial position.
Even after Henry’s resignation, questions still remained, and the opposition persisted in pursuing the matter.
Now, just over a month before the UWP marks its third year in office, another ministerial resignation has taken place. This time it’s Ubaldus Raymond who held the positions of Finance Minister and Public Service Minister. The allegations surrounding the resignations are not the same, however both resignations featured at a time when Prime Minister Chastanet was off island and with Ezechiel Joseph holding the top ministerial post.
Unlike the Henry resignation, Prime Minister Chastanet made several statements on the Raymond resignation, saying just this week that Raymond’s resignation was in the best interest of all parties, even though he was happy with Raymond’s work as a minister of government. Raymond first resigned as a minister of government and later as a Senator.
Raymond’s resignation prompted an investigation by the government. Prime Minister Chastanet believes the investigation is relevant and should continue for the sake of transparency and the integrity of his government.
“When this issue took place, he (Raymond) was a minister,” the prime minister said, stating that there are allegations being made, which either needed to be corroborated or dismissed.
“If there are consequences to be paid then they should be paid,” he continued. “This would mean transparency, integrity to my government. At the end of the day, this matter must first be fully investigated. There were allegations made by a private citizen in Trinidad as to what she did, to collude to meet with the Minister. The facts are sufficient that they require an investigation.
“When we understood that this was much broader than the situation between him (Raymond) and the young lady we felt that it was necessary to do an investigation,” Chastanet added, noting that as a result of his father-in-law and brother-in-law being directors of WiPay, he stepped aside and allowed the Attorney General to spearhead the investigation, which is being conducted by several local institutions, including the police. The investigation, Chastanet said, is independent of the Prime Minister’s Office.
“At the end of the day my government is very strong,” he said. “We are committed to being able to deliver to the people of Saint Lucia what we promised.”
According to the Prime Minister, situations that result in the resignations of ministers are never easy to make decisions on. The facts must be sorted through. In the case of Raymond, Chastanet said, the former minister saw it was in his own personal interest and that of the government to resign.