WHAT legitimacy does the Dominican attorney Anthony Astaphan has to pry into the internal affairs of Saint Lucia?
Undoubtedly, the astute lawyer may be well versed in aspects of the law, but interference in a neighbouring island’s political affairs should not be the concern of the gentleman.
Though the learned counsel might be well suited to deal with ‘highly volatile’ legal issues; nonetheless, this does not afford him the privilege to ‘dilly dally’ into Saint Lucia’s internal politics.
Astaphan is well known in the region as a shrewd legal practitioner and has represented the likes of former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, as well as, former speaker of the house Peter Foster in legal matters. On the defensive end of these law suits has been the United Workers Party (UWP) stalwart and Economic Minister Guy Joseph, who has also filed cross charges at the other parties involved.
Over the past four to five years, the legal matters involving the aforementioned individuals has been a long-standing running battle. Up until now, there has been no closure to this matter and official sources have not divulged further information on this issue.
Last week, Astaphan was a guest on the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) sponsored ‘Townhall Tuesday’, which was aired on Choice TV with host Maundy Lewis.
Astaphan commented on the current state of emergency (SOE) that is being implemented in Saint Lucia, while referencing the country’s current COVID-19 figures.
“The figures that you have of people tested positive, active cases and the people who have died, tells a story that that didn’t work,” said Astaphan.
The Senior Counsel added that, “The whole management of COVID went astray somewhere. “
In what capacity does Astaphan have the authority to cast aspersions on the nature of St Lucia’s SOE? Does he possess medical qualifications on this matter and is a certified ‘counsellor’ or expert in that field?
Stating that Saint Lucia’s figures are way out of line, the learned counsel also took umbrage to the SOE extension clause that comes into effect with an extension from May, 17 to October, 16.
“It sends a signal in April – May, that the Prime Minister possibly has no intentions of calling the election until later in the year – October and so on,” Astaphan declared.
Dipping further into St Lucia’s internal political affairs and contending that the situation was intended to gain political mileage by the incumbent regime, he took a swing into the ‘election mode’ atmosphere, adding : “Or the polling from your consultants is very bad, not just bad, very bad where there’s no hope of a swing or a movement towards you.”
Is Astaphan being shown up as a surrogate of the SLP, to boost its election campaigning promotion or is he a ‘bona fide’ SLP member?
Whatever the issue, it is downright unethical and disrespectful of the Dominican attorney to ‘parley’ into St Lucia’s political affairs and further compound the SOE extension issue.
Astaphan’s inferences can only add to ‘muddy’ St. Lucia’s political waters and fuel more animosity and division in the land. At this crucial juncture, when the health authorities and other personnel are making an all-out effort to curb the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the country surely does not need someone coming in to add more fuel to an already ‘flammable situation’.
Upon reflection, during Dominica’s general elections held last year – a member of the SLP, in the person of Deputy Political Leader Dr. Ernest Hilaire was called out when he got embroiled in matters pertaining to Dominica’s polls.
Dr. Hilaire is alleged to have uttered certain remarks where he vilified the UWP for having some stake in favouring concerns for the ruling regime in the Dominican elections. Not much came out of these allegations – and lo and behold Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was returned to power.
At this point in time, tension is mounting in the entire region and a few countries have held their elections during a SOE, while adhering to the rules of their respective national constitutions. It is evident that democracy must prevail and the people granted their opportunity to make their votes count in the ballot boxes.
While the peoples of the sub-region and wider CARICOM grouping clamour for ‘regional integration’ there should be a dividing line as to which issues can be sorted out internally, within the respective state, and when necessary to warrant advice from external sources.
This is definitely not a time to be pouring fuel on ‘troubled waters’, and the veteran attorney may be well advised to curtail his activity to deal with matters within his jurisdiction and under his purview.