Francis, Poyotte Out – Is the Government Facing a Dilemma?

Is the Government of Saint Lucia facing a dilemma with both House Speaker Claudius Francis and Home Affairs and Labour Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte out of commission due to ill health?

The Pierre administration has so far shown us that the absence of these two key government figures from their duties in office has not posed insuperable problems to government’s ability to function. After all, Francis’ absence from the Speaker’s chair was filled by the Deputy Speaker Jeremiah Norbert, and the business in the House went on as usual.

On Monday this week Mr. Norbert switched chairs. He was appointed a Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister responsible for Crime Reduction and Persons with Disabilities. He will also be overseeing the portfolios of Poyotte during her absence on medical leave.

And so, on the surface, it appears that the present administration has things under control and the affairs of government are being handled without a wrinkle, while these two important individuals are out dealing with their respective health issues.

And this is about all we have learned about their illnesses – that they are ill. Details have not been as forthcoming as we would have liked, taking into consideration that both Francis and Poyotte are important public officials. While the need for privacy in moments like these are understandable, something more should have been said about the two and why they are not at their posts, other than what has been officially released.

The health problems of both Francis and Poyotte has raised all sorts of questions on social media.

We are sure the government is aware of the public’s appetite for information when a government minister or high-ranking government member falls ill. Trying to navigate or ignore such desire for knowledge only leads to speculation, which may be detrimental to the government’s image and provides fertile ground for rumour mongering and untruthfulness. How much information to release while trying to protect Francis’ and Poyotte’s privacy is a delicate balancing act for the government, but it is a truism that the more you hide the more you are thought to have something to hide.

Last week it was said that the Deputy Speaker’s position will be filled at the next sitting of parliament, which would indicate that Francis will be back at his post. Efforts to determine whether this is the case and when will the next sitting of parliament be held were unsuccessful.

It is in the best interest of the Phillip J Pierre administration to shut down the rumour mill by releasing a statement truthfully expressing, whilst respecting the right to some privacy, what is the state of health of our two senior public officials and how long, if known, they are likely to be hors de combat.

What seems beyond doubt is that two persons who have given valuable public service are ill and it behoves all of us to hold them in our prayers and look forward to their return to good health.

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