St Lucia opposition boycotts throne speech: PM refutes reports of minister's resignation

(MENAFN- Caribbean News Now) By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate managing editor

CASTRIES, St Lucia — The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) upheld its principled position and boycotted the delivery of the throne speech entitled: Growth by empowerment for a better future, by governor general, Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac, at the joint session of parliament on Tuesday.

Cenac's message is scheduled to be followed by a sitting of the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to debate the estimates of expenditure 2019/2020 in the sum of $1,591,589,000.

This is the second consecutive year of the SLP boycott of Cenac's message that says in part:

'My government recognises that public financial management is critical to economic governance and essential for establishing the performance, legitimacy and accountability of mature, functional states.

'Without party, parliamentary government is impossible. It is a most wonderful device that makes for peace and good government, not tribalism and warfare. Parliament is the grand inquest of the nation and in the service of our masters – the people of Saint Lucia — let us not substitute refined inquisitorial procedure for javelins of slander and knives of lies. For the sake of our children and ensuing generations, let us always rise to the occasion, government and opposition, and bring due reverence to this House. We can make Saint Lucia the best of all possible worlds.'

Nevertheless, opposition member of parliament Alva Baptiste was again mindful that 'Cenac is a man of no merit and no credit. Apart from his act of crossing the floor, Neville Cenac was best known in the politics of Saint Lucia as a political clown… Then there was his contribution to the dialogue on the tourism industry, translated from the Kwéyòl language: 'Why are we fussing about tourism, tourists are just people painted in white.'

Leader of the opposition, Philip J Pierre re-affirmed that the appointment of Cenac as governor general and the Allen Chastanet administration in general are not consistent with convention, good governance practices and are certainly not fit to govern.

'The office of governor general should be occupied by a person whose character is beyond reproach, commands the respect of the population, is trustworthy and a unifying force within the country,' he said.

'The government has failed to follow precedent in consulting the leader of the opposition, and as a result of this high-handed approach to governing, the country is divided, polarised and chaos is evident daily," Pierre continued.

Joint session of parliament Tuesday, April 9

Meantime, Senator Dr Ubaldus Raymond, minister for the public service and leader of government business in the Senate was noticeably absent, following multiple sources confirming on Friday that he had resigned, after a second episode of alleged extramarital misconduct .

At the joint session of parliament Tuesday, Senator Hermangild Francis, minister for home affairs, justice and national security, performed the functions of leader of government business.

Nevertheless, no official announcement has been made by the government on Raymond's resignation and/or his replacement in the Senate; or the reason for his absence.

Chastanet, speaking to reporters outside parliament on Tuesday, said that 'news reports indicating that Raymond has resigned are not correct.'

'That's not true,' Chastanet said, adding, 'So there is an investigation and that's why I would rather not to be able to comment at this point. Certainly, when I have all the facts, I would be happy to do that.'

Public response to the prime minister's comments has been swift and forthright on talk-shows and social media, as to whether the government had a change of heart over the weekend.

'Is the not too smart 'Pee-M' for real? We need to ask for the prime minister's resignation as well. Have we lost our standards in this country?'


Caribbean News Now

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