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Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun. 19, CMC  – Premier Dr. Orlando Smith has announced that he will not be seeking re-election as leader of his National Democratic Party (NDP) at the upcoming convention on the weekend.

Dr Orlando Smith

Smith, 73,  who made the announcement in a broadcast late Monday, said he made the decision after ‘much thought and prayer’ and after discussions with family and colleagues.

“And so, when the NDP comes together in its upcoming Convention, I will not seek nor accept the nomination to lead the party into the next election,” the premier said.

“There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 per cent of my time and attention to that task….while my journey as the Premier and leader of the territory will come to a close at the end of this government’s term in office, the mission that was launched so many years ago lives on.”

The decision made by the Premier means that the only confirmed contenders to succeed him as party leader are Education Minister Myron Walwyn and Health Minister Ronnie Skelton.

During this weekend’s convention candidates will also be contesting the offices of vice president, secretary, deputy secretary, treasurer, deputy treasurer, chaplain, chairman of the youth movement, and chairperson of the women’s association.

CMC/kb/2018

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LA Times logo

Essential Politics – Comey, Trump, Kim…

   
 

By David Lauter

On his return from Singapore, President Trump lamented on Twitter that his “thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt.”

His eagerness to jump back into the fray belied the “sadly.”

Even before he left Washington for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump was looking ahead to the scheduled release of a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who was expected to sharply criticize the president’s nemesis, former FBI Director James B. Comey.

The report, issued the day Trump turned 72, would be a good birthday present, the president said.

THE NEVER-ENDING 2016 CAMPAIGN

One central fact about the report issued by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz: It has only a tangential relationship to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian efforts to shape the 2016 election and possible collusion by people close to Trump.

The main focus of the 500-page report, as Evan Halper wrote, was on the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email while she was secretary of State.

Comey mishandled the case by flouting Justice Department rules and publicly talking about the FBI’s conclusions, according to Horowitz — a nonpartisan figure who commands wide respect from both parties in Congress. Comey’s actions did not display political bias but were improper, Horowitz’s report concluded. He also found that Comey correctly determined that the FBI had no grounds to recommend criminal charges against Clinton in the email probe.

The report also went into great detail on a “culture of leaking” of investigative details from the FBI to reporters — something that clearly played to Clinton’s detriment in 2016.

In Clinton’s eyes — and in the opinion of many outside analysts — Comey’s announcement in October 2016 that the FBI had reopened its email probe after finding some of her emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner could well have been the deciding factor that cost her the election. The inspector general’s criticisms of the FBI investigation would have rocked the campaign had the election not already been held more than 19 months ago.

The historical nature of the inquiry — and its strong implication that the FBI had been unfair to Clinton, not him — didn’t slow Trump, of course. To him, Comey represents the enemy, the Deep State that he and his supporters see as conspiring against him. Anything that reflects badly on Comey serves the president both politically (keeping his supporters revved up) and, it seems, psychologically.

The report “totally exonerates” him, Trump falsely declared Friday.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, went further, as is increasingly his habit. Even though the report does not mention Mueller at all, and involves only matters that took place months before Mueller’s appointment, Giuliani took to Sean Hannity’s Fox television show Thursday night to say that Mueller should be “suspended.”

Even more extraordinarily for a former U.S. attorney, Giuliani declared that an FBI agent cited in the report for sending text messages critical of candidate Trump “should be in jail by the end of next week.”

The FBI agent, Peter Strzok, and a second former agent, Lisa Page, provide the key connection for Trump and his backers that allows them to link the Clinton email investigation to the Mueller probe.

Strzok played an important role in the email investigation and the early stages of the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016. The personal messages he exchanged with Page — the two were having an affair — which show disdain for Trump, taint the entire investigation and everything it produced, Trump’s backers claim.

Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation last summer, after he learned of the messages and before they became public.

Friday morning, the Russia investigation got a new jolt when a federal judge ordered Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort jailed on allegations of witness tampering. Trump, shortly before the court hearing, continued his effort to distance himself from Manafort, saying that he “worked for me for a very short period of time.”

NORTH KOREA ‘NO LONGER A NUCLEAR THREAT’

It’s possible that future historians will look back and say that Trump’s meeting with Kim in Singapore this week represented a milestone along a road toward a peaceful, secure future for northeast Asia.

It’s at least equally possible that it will be viewed, like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s trip to Pyongyang in the closing months of the Bill Clinton presidency, as yet another trip leading nowhere in the unsuccessful U.S. effort to reverse North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Trump’s not one to wait on the verdict of history.

“President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!” he declared on Twitter. “Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

As Barbara Demick and Tracy Wilkinson wrote in their assessment of the summit, the talks hadn’t been expected to produce much and “actually produced less than many analysts expected.” The vaguely worded summit declaration — largely negotiated before Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore — deferred almost all the hard work to a future negotiating process.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately set off for Seoul and Beijing to try to get that process moving, as Wilkinson and Eli Stokols reported.

“We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the next — what is it? — 2½ years, something like that,” Pompeo said. “There’s a lot of work left to do,” he acknowledged.

In addition to Demick, Wilkinson and Stokols, our colleagues in Singapore for the summit — Noah Bierman, Victoria Kim, Matt Stiles and Bob Drogin — produced a large body of excellent stories. Here’s a selection of some of the most insightful stories that remain of interest several days after the events have ended:

Demick wrote about Kim’s remarkable and brutal success at consolidating his hold on North Korea while also improving the country’s dismal economy. Kim is the “perfect dictator,” said Andrei Lankov, a Seoul-based scholar who has lived and worked inside North Korea.

Demick also explained why, seven decades after the fighting stopped, it’s still hard to formally end the Korean War.

Bierman wrote a first-person account of being one of the handful of reporters actually on-scene at the summit site.

Stokols wrote about how the summit highlighted the unique nature of “diplotainment” in the Trump era.

Kim wrote this about her experience as a reporter who grew up in South Korea, viewing North Korean Kim’s triumphal turn on the world stage.

David Cloud wrote about the nervous reaction at the Pentagon to Trump’s talk of ending joint military exercises with South Korea.

And lest anyone forget, Demick and Wilkinson wrote this about North Korea’s record of starving, shooting and imprisoning its own people.

Trump, as is now widely known, did not press that topic when he met with Kim and, indeed, went out of his way to downplay the North Korean government’s brutality.

Kim is a “tough guy” who took over a “tough country,” he told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “If you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 could do that,” he said, admiringly.

When Baier pressed him, noting that Kim had “done some really bad things,” Trump seemed to waive the concerns aside.

“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” he said.

Friday, also on Fox, Trump expressed admiration for the way Kim’s underlings respond to him: “He speaks and his people stood up at attention,” Trump said. “I want my people to do the same.”

ESCALATING THE TRADE WAR

Remarks like that — even if Trump means them partly in jest — feed the president’s reputation for authoritarianism. So does the contrast between his warm praise for Kim (or other heads of state like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping) and his often-harsh criticism of America’s traditional allies.

The latest example came this week after Trump threw into chaos the G-7 economic summit in Quebec. As Jim Puzzanghera explained, Trump initially agreed to a joint communique to end the summit, as is traditionally done at such meetings. Then, after leaving early, he withdrew from the communique in an apparent fit of pique at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau had the temerity to say, as he has several times, that Canada would not go along with some U.S. demands for changes in the NAFTA trade treaty with the U.S. and Mexico.

The next day, two of Trump’s top economic advisors — taking their cues from the president — used unusually harsh rhetoric to denounce the Canadian leader, calling his words a “stab in the back.”

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said, on Fox, of course.

On Tuesday, Navarro apologized.

Trump’s conviction that other countries are cheating the U.S. on trade formed a central part of his campaign. Mainstream economic advisors diverted the president for most of his first year in office, but this year, he has steadily ratcheted up trade tensions.

On Friday, the administration took its latest step, detailing $50 billion in Chinese imports that will be subjected to hefty tariffs.

As Puzzanghera and Don Lee wrote, less than a month ago, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration was “putting the trade war on hold.” Now, it’s back on.

IT’S TRUMP’S PARTY

Trump’s savaging of the allies, levying of tariffs, downplaying of North Korean oppression and ending of military exercises with South Korea all broke with longstanding Republican positions.

Each outburst brought a few, scattered criticisms from the usual voices — Sen. John McCain and his fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a few others.

The vast majority of Republicans remained silent.

Republican voters stand firmly in Trump’s corner — much more so this spring than they did last fall — and they’re ready to punish any sign of disloyalty. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina discovered that Tuesday when he lost his primary, largely because of his willingness to criticize Trump.

As Mark Barabak wrote, the lesson was clear to all GOP elected officials:

“If you’re a Republican member of Congress who wants to speak out against Trump, you have a couple of choices,” David Wasserman, who handicaps House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told Barabak. “Retire or lose your next primary.”

A second lesson also came Tuesday when House GOP leaders successfully squelched an effort by moderate Republicans to force a vote on immigration legislation.

As Sarah Wire wrote, the moderates, led by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) had pushed for a vote on protecting the so-called Dreamers — young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children. Instead, the House leadership will bring to the floor two immigration bills — a hard-line measure that even its backers say can’t pass the House, and a more moderate effort that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has billed as a compromise.

Friday, Trump seemed to kill off that effort, as well. “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” he said.

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Bishop Joseph Atherley

Former BLP legislator sworn in as Opposition Leader

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 1, CMC – Bishop Joseph Atherley was on Friday sworn in as Opposition Leader, one week after he was a member of the victorious Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that swept the May 24 general elections, winning all 30 seats in the Parliament.

The Member of Parliament for St Michael West constituency, accompanied by his wife, Esther, his sister Eudaline Atherley-Roberts and son Joseph Atherley III, took the oath of office before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.

Bishop Joseph Atherley

Also present at the ceremony was the President of the St Michael West branch of the BLP, John Bancroft.

“I have heard a lot of things said and obviously it seems to be a shocking event to some. Let me tell you what it is not. It is not a reaction to any ministerial appointments made by the Right Honourable Prime Minister last week and the omission of myself.

“It is definitely not a reaction to that. I have indicated that to the Prime Minister and to my other parliamentary colleagues.

“It is definitely not a repudiation of the Barbados Labour Party platform or policies,” Atherley said, adding that he was part of those engaged in the formulation of the policies contained in the party’s manifesto.

“I support those…it is not a reaction to any decision by her,” he said, adding that he believes tremendously in the importance of democracy.

“I believe strongly we need to do everything we possibly can to make sure we expand our platform of democracy,” he said, adding that he wants “to constitute that physical presence” on the opposition benches”.

He said he would give “critical support to the party in office…to applaud them when they get it right, which I believe they will often, to put pertinent and pointed questions to them when necessary to keep them on their toes.

“This is about our traditions of democracy, it is about parliamentary processes  and that is why I am doing what I am doing,” he told reporters, adding that he would not be forming a party.

Prime Minister Mottley had last weekend noted that she was exploring the possibility of amending the Constitution to allow for the opposition party with the most votes to be able to nominate two members to the Senate. The move was seen as allowing the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which formed the last government, of having a presence in the Parliament.

But Bishop Atherley, the head of the Evangelical Holiness Christian Community Church, said he would be appointing two senators soon.

Another government legislator, Gline Clarke, who has also expressed disappointment over being left out of the Cabinet, has however indicated that he would not be crossing the floor.

“My constituents are not happy. The people who I represent are upset, not me. A lot of my constituents have been meeting with me and have expressed their dissatisfaction,” he told the online publication, Barbados TODAY, while making it clear that “I was elected a Member of Parliament. I was never elected a minister.”

“It is the Prime Minister who has to make the choices. If I did not meet her eyes, there are other things that can be done. The Prime Minister can appoint and disappoint and the truth of the matter is that I was elected as Member of Parliament. You have to give the  Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt all of the time,” Clarke said.

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Prime Minister Mia Mottley, addressing Barbadians following meeting with Social Partnerships

Barbados to suspend payment to domestic and external creditors

By Peter Richards

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 1, CMC – Prime Minister Mia Mottley Friday announced that her new administration would suspend payments due to domestic and external creditors as she appealed to them to “accompany us on this journey” in revitalising the ailing Barbados economy.

“From today we are suspending payments due to external commercial creditors. Similarly we will endeavour to make scheduled domestic interest payments. However domestic creditors will be asked to roll over principal maturity until we reach a restructuring agreement,” Mottley said, following a meeting with the Social Partnerships.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, addressing Barbadians following meeting with Social Partnerships

“The truth is our debt has been unsustainable territory for some time. The arrears represent an effective default by the previous government to Barbadians,” she said, noting that these arrears were BDS$1.7 billion at the end of September last year and that new figures are expected next week.

“We have never taken this type of creditor action like that before and our action today are designed my friends to ensure that we will never ever have to do so again,” she said, hinting at stringent policies ahead for Barbadians.

She said the new measures will be introduced in a ministerial statement in two weeks and will place the public debt “on a sustainable footing.

“Creditors will thank us for that. Unsustainable debt is of no use to anyone. The restructuring I announce today is only but one part of a comprehensive economic reform programme,” she said that will stabilise the public finances after years of mismanagement.

Mottley, said there was need for total collaboration on the journey to “rescue, rebuilding and transformation.

“We did not choose to be here, but we are here. We move forward together my friends in a spirt of openness, with a covenant of hope and opportunity, upward and onward we shall go, inspired …and greater will our nation grow in strength and unity,” said Mottley, flanked by members of the Social Partnership.

She said that the path ahead is “gruelling, but as more and more of you gather around and as we march out together I tell you, you will find that a new dawn is breaking”.

The state of the Barbados economy had been a major issue in the campaign for the May 24 general election in which Mottley led her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a clean sweep of all 30 seats in the Parliament, defeating the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that had been in power for the past 10 years.

The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) had last month said that the local economy had contracted by an estimated 0.7 per cent during the first quarter of this year and warned that the outlook “remains challenging”.

CBB Governor, Cleviston Haynes, in a review of Barbados’ economic performance in the first quarter of 2018, said that the performance reflects the combined impact of a decline in real output in the tourism sector, the slowing of construction activity, the late start to the annual sugar harvest and the slowdown of domestic demand arising from the budgetary measures announced in the May 2017 budget.

The CBB said that while the supply of foreign exchange was more than adequate to meet market demand on a timely basis during the quarter, “higher public sector debt service obligations than usual contained the growth of international reserves at the Central Bank to BDS$14 million (One Barbados dollar = US$0.50 cents) for the period”.

The Central Bank said that decisive stabilisation measures that place the public finances on a sustainable path, alter the trajectory for the international reserves and create the conditions for strong durable growth are now needed in order to deal with the challenges ahead for the local economy.

Earlier, prior to the start of the talks with the Social Partnership, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said her immediate focus would be on protecting the local currency.

“Our objectives were made very clear on Monday, that we all agree that at all costs, the Barbados dollar must be saved in terms of its value; that we remain committed to a fixed exchange rate; that we remain committed to a stable and prosperous Barbados that is fair and equitable in its opportunities being delivered to its citizens.

“We now go into a bit of the heavy lifting and the drilling down,” she said, adding that it was extremely important for the Social Partnership to be aware of exactly where the country stands financially before coming up with a plan to let the country move forward, and that regular meetings would be paramount”.

Following the discussions, Mottley told Barbadians “there is no avoidance in delay when treating with the economic and financial position in which we find ourselves.

“Our national rescue and rebuilding starts today. We set course not on the easy or quick path,” she said, warning that in order to get out of the present situation ‘we need to invest in our people, our education, our health, our safety and our public infrastructure.

“Hope must be matched with real opportunities,” she said, including developing new skills, find new jobs, new investments among other initiatives.

“We believe your government can achieve these things by spending more wisely in greater openness with the people. Not by spending and taxing more,” she said, arguing that this approach to development for the last 52 years “will not be as readily available as we must now deconstruct what government does and reconstruct it to fit our needs and today’s technologies”.

Mottley said there are new things to be done and in the process “rid ourselves of the corruption of the past and put in place a range of arrangements that ensure that we are never ever in this place again”.

She said the new transformative path by her administration would encourage Barbadians here and abroad, as well as attract new investment opportunities and build new infrastructure, describing the process “as a marathon”.

She said when the last administration came to office a decade ago, it inherited a debt of about six billion Barbados dollars “yet they have left us with a debt level when arrears are added of over BDS$15 billion.

“Public debt as a proportion of our national income is being regarded as high as 171 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) ,the third highest in the entire world,” she said, noting that only Japan and Greece are above Barbados.

She said every year Barbados spends BDS$800 million in interest on the debt and this year, the island will spend a further one billion dollars on meeting promises to pay back what was borrowed.

“Our interest bill alone is equal to the Central government’s entire wages and salaries bill. In fact our interest bill is about BDS$15 million or so higher.

“How can we as a people develop if we spend more on debt interest than we spend on education? How can a people live if they spend more on debt interest than they spend on public health? How may a nation prosper if it spends more on its interest for its debt than in looking after its environment, public infrastructure, public transport?

She questioned on what projects did the last administration spend such large sums of money asking “where did the nine billion dollars of extra debt come from?

She said less than one per cent of that debt would have paid for a new sewage system for the south coast, a reference to the ongoing sewage problem in that tourist section of the island that has been criticised by various private sector concerns and the general public.

“Regrettably we have nothing to show for this debt. The last government pout itself in a trap, water spending push up the debt  and pushed up interest payments so they raised taxes which stopped the economy from growing.”

She said after holding discussions with the Social Partnerships, her administration will seek the cooperation of domestic and external creditors in the restructuring of the public debt.

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Mia Swoern

Mottley sworn in as Prime Minister

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 25, CMC – Less than 24 hours after she led her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to victory in the May 24 general election, Mia Amor Mottley, 52, was sworn in as Barbados eighth prime minister on Friday, joining a handful of Caribbean women who have lead governments in their respective countries.

Mia Swoern
Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Mottley, who first entered local politics in 1991, when she lost the St. Michael North East constituency to Leroy Brathwaite, took the oath of office before Governor General Sandra Mason and in the presence of family, friends and party supporters.

Attorney Dale Marshall also took the oath of office as Attorney General.

Mottley, who between 1994 to 2008, held a succession of ministerial portfolios, led the BLP to a whitewash of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), winning all 30 seats in the Parliament.

Mottley was the first female to be appointed attorney general and minister of home affairs in 2001 and is also the youngest ever Queen’s Counsel in Barbados.

Two years later, she served as the island’s second female Deputy Prime Minister and following the BLP’s defeat in the 2008 election and Owen Arthur’s resignation as party leader, Mottley was chosen as BLP party leader on January, 19, 2008.

She also served as the first female Opposition Leader when she was sworn in on February, 7, 2008.

Mottley joins the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Jamaica’s Portia Simpson Miller and Kamla Persad Bissessar as women who have led governments in their respective countries.

Following her party’s resounding victory, Mottley said she wanted to thank Barbadians for doing “what is best for Barbados”.

She is expected to name her Cabinet over the weekend.

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Mia Mottley

Regional leaders congratulate new Barbados PM

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, May 25, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders were Friday extending congratulations to Mia Amor Mottley, the first woman to be elected prime minister of Barbados.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell described the victory as “unprecedented” reminding Mottley that as she faces the “the challenges ahead, I am confident that this overwhelming mandate will be used to provide a new opportunity to address the priorities of all the people of Barbados.

Mia Mottley
Mia Mottley

“Your record of inclusiveness will indeed take on new meaning in this period, as you aspire to live up to the expectations of the people for change and economic advancement; even as you work with your colleagues to advance the regional agenda,” said Mitchell, the only politician to have led his party to a clean sweep of the island’s parliament on three occasions.

Mottley led the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a clean sweep of the 30 seat parliament during the May 24 general elections and Mitchell said he was personally looking forward “to working with you in addressing the many common and challenging issues of our time, including promoting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final court.

“Those of us in the region who view the CCJ as extremely important to the completion of our independence and our own democratic consolidation, must work together to ensure that the Caribbean, as a family, fulfil this objective.”

Former Barbados prime minister Freundel Stuart had promised to remove the island from the appellate jurisdiction of the court had his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) retained power in the election.

Stuart had claimed that the court had shown a bias towards the island.

“The BLP’s decisive victory is indeed extraordinary; and your win is at once a personal triumph and an historic achievement. I congratulate you, wholeheartedly, on such a feat and I look forward to working with you in that same warm spirit, which has marked not only our personal friendship, but the relations between our two countries for so many years.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Grenada, I wish you and the BLP great success as you work to deliver the promised goals for a more unified and economically stable Barbados,” Mitchell said in his congratulatory letter.

His St. Lucian counterpart, Allen Chastanet said the victory “was a historic day, not just for Barbados but also for the Caribbean.

“The people of Barbados have spoken and delivered to Mia Mottley a highly impressive and extraordinary victory and on behalf of the Government and people of St. Lucia we congratulate the Prime Minister-designate and her team,” said Chastanet.

“I personally congratulate Mia on this achievement and recognize that she has made history in Barbados and the Caribbean, joining an elite group of first female leaders in our region.

“I have no doubt that Ms. Mottley will continue to work for the good of the people of Barbados and the region and we look forward to working with the new administration to advance the causes of the Caribbean and strengthen the bond between our countries. We wish the BLP team much success and continue to wish the people of Barbados much prosperity,” he added.

Former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar, who eight years ago became her country’s first woman head of government, expressed “sincerest congratulations” to Mottley.

“The significance of your landslide victory cannot be understated, CARICOM and indeed the world looked on in awe, not only as you became Barbados’ first woman Prime Minister but also leading your Party to capturing all 30 seats.  You have built a formidable record in the political arena, and your determination to succeed, your acumen and strength of spirit are admirable, “she said.

Persad Bissessar said that Caribbean society and the electorates of regional nation states are characterised by an unprecedented level of awareness.

“Globalization, coupled with advances in social media and information technology have produced, on a foundation of sound education, informed and discerning populations, cognizant of their rights and eager to accomplish their deserved self-determination.

“It is within this context, that the victory of your party in the recent polls is so remarkable, and has already touched so many lives, and serves as an inspiration to women and girls, to witness the shattering of yet another glass ceiling. Our region has much to be proud of as you stand as a trailblazer in women’s political participation and indeed leadership,” she added.

Apart from Persad Bissessar, other Caribbean women to head governments in the region were the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana and Jamaica’s Portia Simpson Miller.

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BLP party

Opposition wins general election, PM Stuart concedes defeat in general election

What a resounding thrashing victory

By Peter Richards

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 25, CMC – Barbadians dumped their frustration of the Freundel Stuart administration into the ballot box and elected the first ever woman to head a government in the country in an historic victory following Thursday’s general election.

BLP party
BLP supporters celebrating victory (CMC Photo)

The preliminary results show that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is on track to sweep all 30 seats in the Parliament and BLP leader Mia Mottley said that she wanted to thank Barbadians for doing “what is best for Barbados”.

BLP – Mottley takes over…

The 52-year-old leader thanked outgoing Prime Minister Stuart “for his service to Barbados” but reminded the nation that “the people have spoken.

“The victory is not mine, not the Barbados Labour Party, this victory is the people of Barbados victory”.

She said that she wanted the victory to be recognised also as “a people’s campaign” and welcomed the new legislators who had embarked on “this special journey.

“Leading this team has been the privilege of my life, it is now for us to move forward because the electioneering has stopped,” she said, adding that she wanted to thank all those who had offered themselves and had not successful.

“I urge them to continue in the spirit of service and…in building this country,” she said, adding that she would begin the task of rebuilding the country “immediately.

“There can be no time for gloating…moaning. We are one people, we are Barbadians and this should come as no surprise to you because…there is a time for healing because if we are to move forward and face the challenges before us we have to be prepared to heal and allow many hands to make light work.

“As for the mandate you have given us…each of us will have a role to play,” she said, adding “we have no time but to get to the task”.

The election was fought against the backdrop of a worsening economic situation in Barbados and Mottley said that in order to move forward her administration will release the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Friday so that Barbadians will know what is expected going forward.

“We have also committed to releasing the noose of taxes around our necks…if this economy is to grow again, then… that will be business number one for us.

“My friend, the task before us will not be easy. There is no elixir, there is no magical remedy, there is no single shock solution, but if we do not move with alacrity we will not succeed and what we have promised you is to stop the bleeding, but at the same time lay the platform for the transformation of our nation.

“As it relates to the mandate you have given us, I am deeply conscious that in the absence of an official opposition in the House of Assembly we will have to evolve institutional arrangements to be able to allow Barbadians to have a greater say in the governance of this country,” she told the nation.

Mottley said that the Cabinet, which will be appointed by Monday, reminded the country that “all ideas must contend.

She said even before the government has a right to take a decision “all ideas must contend and we have already committed in our manifesto to putting in place a framework for people’s initiatives that come from you and are not started with us.

“We have committed to referenda because we believe there are certain fundamental issues that we must consult with you on. Some will be binding and some will be advisory”.

But she pledged “that there will be no gloating, that there is no way there will be a mistrust of the absolute mandate that you have given us, the people of the Barbados Labour Party”.

She pledged also that her administration “would be your stewards at all times.

“Let us move forward recognising that this truly is a defining moment in our history. Not for what people will immediately assume about me being a woman, but more so it is about people claiming their future and the people of Barbados…have claimed their future with a new interactive mode of governance,” she added.

Earlier, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, 66,  accepted “full responsibility” for the defeat of his Democratic Labour Party in the general election announcing also his move away from electoral politics in Barbados.

“Let me unhesitatingly and unequivocally and frankly accept full responsibility for the defeat of the Democratic Labour Party in the election and let me assure all the party members that we govern in very challenging circumstances no previous government in Barbados has had to govern in circumstances quite like the circumstances that we have had to govern,” Stuart said in a concession speech.

Stuart, who entered elective politics in 1994, said that Thursday’s general election would have been his last regardless of the results and that he would assist the party as it moves to name a replacement for him.

Speaking at the party’s headquarters, Stuart said that his administration had to govern in a very challenging environment in the 21st century , adding “we did the best we could according to our likeness and according to our judgement  over the very difficult and challenging decade in which we had to administer the affairs of Barbados”.

He acknowledged that the government had to take some “tough and sometimes unpalatable decisions “but he remained confident that “in the fullness of time the wisdom of our actions be vindicated.

“As far as the Democratic Labour Party is concerned, I think we have to when the dust has settled reflect on what has happened, try to determine why it has happened and take what corrective steps we deem necessary to ensure we start that process of necessary rebuilding and I am confident we have the human resources in this party to do it,” Stuart added.

Hundreds of BLP supporters took to the streets during the earkly hours of Friday to celebrate the victory and Mottley said that she had urged the private sector to close down their businesses at midday.

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ballot box

Polls closed in Barbados general election

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 24, CMC – Barbadians are now awaiting the outcome of Thursday’s general election after the estimated 542 polling stations closed after a 12 hour period.

While, generally, the election was incident free, several people, mainly non-nationals, were forced to go to the Court to get an order allowing them to cast their ballots.

Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson ruled that approximately 20 nationals and non-nationals should be allowed to vote before the polls were closed after a six and a half hour emergency hearing of the matter on Thursday.

ballot boxThere had been widespread reports that several people were turned away from their respective polling stations and their legal representatives, led by Elliot Mottley, the father of the leader of the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Mia Mottley, urged them to show up at the Supreme Court to give testimony that they had in fact been in the island for the requisite three years.

As a result of the ruling, the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, was given an order to issue an addendum to allow for the parties to vote.

Counting of the ballots will begin at 8.00 pm (local time).

While there are a record 135 candidates and seven political parties vying for control of the 30-member Parliament, the contest was seen as a straight fight between the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the BLP led by Miss Mia Mottley, a Barbados veteran politician.

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Stuart to vote

PM acknowledges heightened expectations as Barbadians vote in general election

 
See Mottley’s take following…
Prepare for the results…

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 24, CMC –Prime Minister Freundel Stuart cast his ballot in the St. Michael South  constituency on Thursday acknowledging that there is “heightened expectations” in Barbados on the part of both the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

Stuart to vote
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on his way to cast his ballot

An estimated 255, 654 voters are eligible to cast ballots in the general election that is being held more than a month after the parliament here was automatically dissolved.

Stuart, who led the DLP into a 16-14 victory in the 2013 general elections, told reporters that he is aware that many Barbadians had come out to exercise their franchise and that “based on the reports I have received all the constituencies have seen a lot of activity.

“So far we seem to be having a peaceful election,” he told reporters after casting his ballot at Bayleys Primary School in St Philip, south of here.

“The contest between the two major parties has been a very hot one. This election was being looked forward to for some time. I think there is heightened expectation on both sides of the political divide. I certainly have in every speech I made in the campaign emphasise the importance of not staying home and therefore if there are long lines and people are coming out to vote that’s a welcome sign.

“It shows our democracy …is in good nick,” Stuart told reporters, adding that he thought there had been a good election period, making reference to the four week of campaigning.

“Difference between Barbados and many other jurisdictions…our election campaign tend to be peaceful and free.”

He acknowledged that “people express themselves vigorously and take a very strong position on behalf of the political party they support, but it never transcends the perimeter of decency and therefore our elections are very peaceful and the campaign a peaceful one,” he added.

“All the parties contested themselves I thought properly,” he said.

Stuart’s main challenger for his post, Mia Mottley, is due to cast her ballot later on Thursday.

Mottley says election will determine the future of Barbados

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 24, CMC – The leader of the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Mia Mottley, says Thursday’s general election will determine the future direction of Barbados.

DSC_0127
Mia Mottley, speaking to reporters after casting ballot

Mottley, who is seeking to become the first woman to become prime minister here, told reporters after casting her ballot in the St. Michael North East constituency, said she wanted to “thank Barbadians for heeding our call and coming out in their numbers.

“We are satisfied that they have done that, there has been a lot of passion on the part of people for their country,” she said, adding “it is the most significant election since independence and that this election will determine the direction of our country whether there is a new dawn or we continue or we continue along the current path”.

Mottley reiterated as she has done throughout the campaign that the state of the Barbados economy would be a priority for whichever party emerges victorious in Thursday’s general election.

While there are candidates from seven political parties contesting the 30 seats in the Parliament, political observers say the race is a straight contest between the BLP and the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

She said that last 10 years of DLP rule can be described as “the lost decade” adding “we are satisfied voters…do what is necessary to come out and vote”..

She said despite hiccups “Barbados has a tradition of being orderly and we want to maintain that as far as possible,”’ she said, adding that the party is using the proper legal channels to ensure that names that had been removed from the list are reinstated.

“More than anything else I want everybody to remain clam,” she said.

Mottley said that she remains confident, adding “what we saw this morning (turn out) is nothing short of phenomenal”.

“The Barbados Labour Party will emerge victorious because I genuinely believe we have the party with the better plan, the best team and that has been anchored and focus on the issues rthat the majority of Barbadians want in this campaign,” she added.

In the last general election, the DLP won by a slender two seat majority. And that was for a second consecutive term.

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Mottley Freundel

ELECTIONS-Barbadians vote for new government amid economic concerns

By Peter Richards

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 21, CMC – Barbadians go to the polls on Thursday to elect a new government amid growing economic concerns and the possibility of choosing a woman for the first time to lead a government in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

“We have done this country proud over the last 10 years, we have had to govern Barbados in the most challenging decade the western world has seen since the great depression and we have managed to not only keep Barbados stable but to ensure that those basic amenities to which Barbadians have become accustomed were made available to them on an uninterrupted basis,” said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, 66, who is leading his ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) into a general election for the second consecutive occasion.

Mottley Freundel
BLP Leader Mia Mottley and DLP Leader Freundel Stuart

But his main challenger, Mia Mottley, 52, an attorney, who heads the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), has dismissed Stuart’s record of achievement, telling voters that she is prepared to implement the stringent policies, including taking the island to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a bid to turn around the ailing economy.

“I said it before that we would do whatever is necessary, that is legal and moral, to rescue this country. Does that mean going to the IMF? It may, we don’t know. But when we get the results in the first few days (of taking office), we will be able to make the judgement,” said Mottley.

The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) earlier this month said that the local economy had contracted by an estimated 0.7 per cent during the first quarter of this year and warned that the outlook “remains challenging”.

CBB Governor, Cleviston Haynes, in a review of Barbados’ economic performance in the first quarter of 2018, said that the performance reflects the combined impact of a decline in real output in the tourism sector, the slowing of construction activity, the late start to the annual sugar harvest and the slowdown of domestic demand arising from the budgetary measures announced in the May 2017 budget.

The CBB said that while the supply of foreign exchange was more than adequate to meet market demand on a timely basis during the quarter, “higher public sector debt service obligations than usual contained the growth of international reserves at the Central Bank to BDS$14 million (One Barbados dollar = US$0.50 cents) for the period”.

The Central Bank said that decisive stabilisation measures that place the public finances on a sustainable path, alter the trajectory for the international reserves and create the conditions for strong durable growth are now needed in order to deal with the challenges ahead for the local economy.

But Stuart maintains that his administration has done much to revitalise the economy and has warned voters not to take a chance with their future.

“Having said that Barbados is in the poorest state that it has ever been in, since Universal Adult Suffrage or since Independence, the Barbados Labour Party is now coming to give the impression to the people, that the same Barbados that is on its knees, can afford all the give-aways that they are promising.

BLP Supporters2018
BLP supporters

“Mia Mottley has stood up in the House of Assembly on many occasions and said that the problem with Barbados is that we are running a government that we cannot afford. And although we can’t afford it, according to her, she is now coming with measures that would require us to spend even more than is being spent now. But, spending more by earning less,” he told party supporters.

However, Mottley, who is aiming to emulate the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Portia Simpson Miller in Jamaica and Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago in heading governments in a predominately male dominated Caribbean political landscape, insists that “change is in sight in this country.

“I have not come to lie to the people of Barbados, I have come to talk to you and with you . . . . All that we have seen is that Freundel Stuart would do anything to be able to say that, ‘I did not go to the IMF. I did not carry Barbados to the IMF,’ she added.

The election here on Thursday is already historic for more than one reason.

Stuart himself said that “history is not made by things happening the same way all the time” and that it is “made by doing things differently” as he defended the decision not to name a date for the general election when the Parliament was automatically dissolved earlier this year.

“I did not dissolve it deliberately and of course, the experts have been giving expressions of their surprise. This is the first time in Barbados history that a Parliament was allowed to stand dissolved by the effluxion of time, that is how history is made,” he said.

The 2018 election has attracted a record 135 candidates representing various political parties and independents. There are 37 women and 98 men and for the first time in Barbados political history, two political parties, the BLP and United Progressive Party (UPP) are being led into an election by women.

However, despite the increased number of political parties and candidates, only the DLP and the BLP have nominated candidates to contest all 30 constituencies, with some such as the Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM), fielding just one candidate.

DLPThe courts have also featured in the run-up to the general election. Commonwealth citizens, who have been resident here for more than three years went as far as the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – Barbados highest court – seeking to have their names included on the voters list.

“The long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors … is unlawful and ultra vires. The Court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” The CCJ ruled, threatening to jail the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, if she failed to obey the ruling.

No public opinion poll has been released here, less than 96 hours before the general population cast their ballot at the polling stations across the island.

But political commentators say that history does not really favour the DLP in the election. They noted that never in the history of this Caribbean island since it attainted political independence from Britain in 1996, has a government failed to obtain anything more than a 10-year term in office.

Director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, who has conducted several polls throughout the region, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that, while no official poll has been commissioned, he believes there will be a change in government.

“Historically, the Barbados Labour Party has on average received a four to five per cent swing and if they are able to get at least that as an average performance historically, you looking at an additional four to five seats.

“But my sense is that they will get considerably more than a five per cent swing,” he told CMC, noting that there seems to be widespread support for Mottley in succeeding Stuart as the new head of government.

But he also acknowledged that if the DLP is able to “mitigate that swing and achievement any improvement in its fortunes it would create history in as much the same way the BLP did in 1999”.

Stuart came to office after succeeding David Thompson, who died on 23 October 2010 and three years later, Barbadian voters kept with tradition and provided the incumbent DLP party with a second consecutive term in power following a nerve jangling general elections.

On that occasion, Stuart’s DLP won by a 16-14 margin, defeating former prime minister Owen Arthur, who has now warned that regardless of which political party forms the new government on Thursday, stringent policies will have to be implemented to resuscitate the ailing economy.

“There are fundamental issues concerning the economy that Barbados has to address: I do not think that people quite appreciate what is the importance of the last report of the governor of the Central Bank,” Arthur, 68, one of the longest serving prime ministers, told a press conference.

Arthur, who announced his retirement from politics earlier this year, said the incoming government will have to “invent an alternative reality… any government that wants to be serious… cannot talk in terms of coming into office and taking the people (for a ride)…

“You cannot give away what you do not have, and unless something is done quickly to stabilise this economy, the Barbados economy is going to go under.”

The BLP is promising not to devalue the island’s currency, leaving it pegged at the exchange rate of two dollars to one United States dollar.

However, it has said that the strategy for boosting foreign exchange reserves would have “many facets.

“We will prohibit the Central Bank from printing money without parliamentary approval. We will allow all who earn foreign exchange to keep foreign currency accounts in local banks. We will attract new inward investment through a range of of policies including developing Heritage Bridgetown as a Smart and Creative City…we will incentivise the private sector to build new islands off Barbados,” the party has promised in its manifesto.

For its part, the DLP is promising to reduce the tax burdens on citizens by “growing the economy.

“As the economy grows, tax collections from wages and salaries and from the sale of goods and services will increase. Government revenue therefore rises without further increases in tax rates. Sustained growth in the economy and in tax collections will enable government to actually reduce tax rates over time,” the DLP said.

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