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Stirring opening to CARICOM Inter-Sessional

 

 

 

Stirring opening to CARICOM Inter-Sessional – Video highlights
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     The Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) opened Thursday morning at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana.
 
Speakers at the Opening included CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque,  Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, and CARICOM Chairman and President of Guyana, HE David Granger.

More in this video report:   https://vimeo.com/204469890
 
 

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Features, Local, News, Politics, Regional, TOURISM, Videos0 Comments

NDC

NDC candidate bows out

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Feb 15, CMC – The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is likely to look towards former education minister Franka Bernardine as its candidate to contest the St George’s South East constituency in the next general election after the current caretaker has said he is putting his business ahead of his political ambition.

“I had indicated to the party about two years ago that they should consider getting a new caretaker because of increasing work load with my company. It’s a small company and I need to focus on its operations, I got a small staff and we just need to work together for it to succeed,” said Randall Robinson who operates a tour company.

NDC“I really could not continue as caretaker, right now it’s the busy season for me and with talk of a snap elections it will just be too much,” said Robinson, who unsuccessfully contested the 2013 general elections losing out to Gregory Bowen of the ruling New National Party (NNP).

Robinson said that while he would continue to hold on as caretaker despite giving notice he hopes the party would move quickly to announce his replacement.

He says he favours Bernardine, the former education minister in the Tillman Thomas administration that was booted out of office in 2013.

Bernardine had contested the Town of St George seat but she was beaten by Health Minister Nickolas Steele of the NNP.CMC/ls/ir/2017.

The general elections are constitutionally due here in 2018, but there is widespread speculation that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell will go to the polls this year.

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skerrit aid bank

PM Skerrit says his government will not be overthrown

ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 8, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Wednesday said that his ruling Dominica labour Party (DLP) would not be removed from office unless through the ballot box as he condemned the violence that erupted here on Tuesday night as police used teargas to disperse opposition supporters demanding his resignation.

Addressing the 24th annual general meeting of the Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank, Skerrit, who had earlier toured some of the businesses looted or set on fire by the protestors, said that his silence should never be regarded as a sign of weakness.

He told the bankers that the riot had been organised “clearly by the leadership of the United Workers Party and their associates” had resulted in millions of dollars in losses.

skerrit aid bank“I visited the Muslim store, they set fire to the back of the store and I saw the volume of stock, millions of dollars destroyed. Those that were not damaged by smoke or fire were damaged by water,” Skerrit said, adding it is incomprehensible as Christian people and go to church every morning and praise God “would be condoning this action by the United Workers Party (UWP) because of our partisanship…”

Skerrit, who is due to address the nation later on Wednesday on the violence, said that  the store owners and others had invested significant amounts of resources into the island. Adding that the stores attacked were done so randomly.

“And we can wake up in the morning and be okay with it, nothing happened in the country. That we are not going to let our voices be heard and condemn this because we are supporting the party, or because we do not like or love Roosevelt Skerrit.

“That has nothing to do with me. It is about the country and the country’s future. When to send to the world the impression that this country is not a place to do business and to come to visit how are we going to create jobs in Dominica.”

He said the acts aimed at toppling his administration by force would never succeed.

“I am saying to people in Dominica, that nobody or groups of individuals are going to get out or my government out without going through the ballots. Never take my silence for weakness. I am measured with my approach with life …as the leader of the country let it be known that there should be no actions on the part of individuals of Dominica to overthrow this government.

“So if that’s what is their intention I am sending message to them they bette4r re-think their plans. But this action last night was planned it was calculated and it was executed,” he added.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton condemned the “violence and vandalism” in the capital on Tuesday night and denied that the party played any role in getting protestors to set fires and loot several buildings.

“Today we say, the United Workers Party condemns the acts of violence and vandalism that erupted in the streets of Roseau during the evening of February 7, 2017 causing widespread loss and damages to business enterprises and triggering fears for safety and security in a season of heightened tension in our practice of civility,” UWP leader Lennox Linton said in an address posted on his Facebook page.

“The leadership of the United Workers Party was being blamed on the grounds that the disorder resulted from a public meeting…earlier in the day calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

“Both events are un-related and we condemn these baseless criticisms as forcefully as we condemn the lawlessness visited upon the capital on Tuesday night. For the avoidance of doubt the public meeting ended hours before the violence and vandalism,” he said.

National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore Wednesday praised the police for their “high degree of tolerance” after they used tear gas to disperse opposition supporters who had taken to the streets on Tuesday calling for the resignation of Skerrit.

“The Police Force demonstrated the highest degree of constraint and diligence and managed to stabilise the situation using reasonable force in the circumstances. They did not respond with deadly force,” Blackmoore said in a broadcast on the state-owned DBS radio.

He said that the police must also be commended for keeping peace in the capital, “attending to acts of arson…the last one being a fire and a road blockage at Fond Cole” on the outskirts of the capital.

“That is not want we want in Dominica. Ladies and gentlemen we all have the responsibility to condemn…blatant criminal acts.

“I have been advised by the police that a number of persons have been arrested including a man with a nine millimetre firearm. Investigations are continuing and I have been advised that the police will do an assessment of the situation with a view of embarking on all the necessary steps to maintain law and order in this beautiful country,” Blackmoore added.

The police on Tuesday night fired tear gas to disperse the protestorswho  had earlier marched to the Financial Center, where the office of the Prime Minister Skerrit is located, demanding his resignation as well as his entire Cabinet.

Posted in Local, News, Politics, Regional1 Comment

Skerrit in Cuba

PM Skerrit says protesters had planned a coup against his giovernment

ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 9, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says the leadership of two opposition parties here had planned to storm his office and “seize the seat of power” during Tuesday night’s disturbances that led to demonstrators setting fire to buildings and looting several businesses.

In a radio and television address on Wednesday night, Skerrit said that the demonstrators who had been calling for his resignation and that of his government were being pushed by the “militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership” of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP).

Skerrit in Cuba

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

The protesters had earlier during the day staged a demonstration on the street of the Financial Center where Skerrit’s office is housed, with Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and others defying a police command that their activities be held during the period 11.00 am to 3.00 pm (local time)..

“The police had information that the intent of the leadership was to stall the truck in front the Financial Centre and storm the barriers with the intent of entering the building.

“This was the intent of the leadership of the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party. This is how they intended to seize the seat of power in the country. They would have stormed the Financial Center Building and seek to occupy the building until their demands were met,” Skerrit said in his broadcast.

He said the police had on Tuesday night made “several attempts to clear the road by removing debris placed in front and under the tyres of the truck so as to allow it to exit the area but that proved futile as the people continued to create an obstruction”.

He said that Linton and three other opposition members, including two other legislators, had sought a meeting with the Superintendent (Ag.) Matthew Cuffy, who was in control of the police squad at the event, but left after he “advised them to take control of their supporters and to clear the front of the truck” which was also being used as a platform for the various speakers.

“The driver of the truck was ordered to proceed due west but the truck could not be driven forward because the mob was blocking it, and the atmosphere of the crowd then started to deteriorate.    At about 6:30 p.m. the crowd started agitating and started chanting “Skerrit Must Go.”

“In all this, the leadership of the UWP and DFP said or did nothing to contain the emotions of their supporters,” Skerrit said, giving his audience a detailed account of the agreement that had been reached between the police and the organisers to end the protest by 3.00 pm.

He said that the agreement called for the speakers to adhere to the provisions of the Litter and Noise Abatement Acts as well as the Public Order Act.

“Speakers at the meeting must refrain from making inflammatory statements to incite violence. The meeting must be peaceful and adhere to law and order. The Leaders and organizers of the meeting are responsible to ensure a peaceful meeting. The Chief of Police also informed the joint UWP/DFP leadership that they would be held responsible for any violation of the conditions set for the meeting.”

Skerrit said that the representatives of the two Opposition parties agreed to the terms and conditions set in the permission for the meeting, but that “so emotive was the language used, that the American Embassy in Barbados, you would recall, issued an advisory to American citizens in Dominica advising that they stay clear of the area earmarked for this event.

“Perhaps now, on reflection, it is reasonable for one to speculate whether the US Embassy in Bridgetown had gotten wind of the intended action of the leaderships of the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party; for their advisory about the likely deterioration of social order, proved to be spot on.”

Skerrit noted that notwithstanding the agreement to end the meeting at a scheduled time, Linton spoke for an hour and 15 minutes after the agreed time indicating that the meeting would only end when he said so.

“The police repeatedly informed Mr. Linton and other members that the meeting should end immediately, but he refused to comply. Fellow Dominicans, friends, and well-wishers, this is where the breakdown of respect for law and order began.

“This is where a clear signal was sent to supporters of the combined United Workers Party and Dominica Freedom Party that the law was not to be respected and that they could do as they please.

“This is when and where the cue was given for persons to do whatever they deemed necessary to forcibly and unlawfully remove a democratically elected government from office,” Skerrit said, adding that the events that later unfolded were “as a direct consequence and a result of the decision by Lennox Linton to say, in effect, ‘to hell with the police, we shall do as we please’.

“There were other aspects of Lennox Linton’s address to the mob that had gathered, that could be construed as inciting lawlessness and acts of antisocial behavior. But, this is all now part of a police investigation, which I will not speak to at this point as I do not wish to prejudice the matter.

“What is a clear and undisputed fact, is that the decision to break the law and to disregard the rule of law was taken by the Leader of the Opposition Lennox Linton and his mob of supporters who, merely followed his lead. “

Skerrit said that during the disturbances on Tuesday night, live bullets were fired on the police by the protesters, who had clearly marked out the businesses to be looted and destroyed.

He said 32 male individuals were arrested for various offences in relation to the reported incidents and that investigations are continuing into the overall conduct of the meeting and protest action.

“The Dominica Police Force handled the situation last evening with exceptional skill and forbearance. Were it not for the actions of the police this matter could have gotten much worse.

“I salute the officers and Members of the Dominica Police Force and the Fire Service. They did us all proud last evening. They contained a situation that could easily have gotten out of hand to the point of major bloodshed on the streets of Dominica.”

He said that his government would seek to help the businesses that were affected by the events and would also be intensifying “our marketing of Dominica as a peaceful and welcoming place to visit.

“We shall not be deterred by the reckless and irresponsible acts and behavior of those who crave political power,” he said, adding “this act of gross irresponsibility goes to the heart of the image of Dominica as a democratically stable and peaceful place to visit, live and do business.

“The perpetrators of this crime have done Dominica enormous damage. But, we shall prevail. We shall recover from this and we shall move on.”

Linton has already condemned the “violence and vandalism” in the capital on Tuesday night and denied that the party played any role in getting protesters to set fires and loot several buildings.

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Skerrit at forum

PM urges private sector to get on board CBI programme

ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 10, CMC – The Dominica government Friday urged the private sector to get more involved in the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) describing it as a “winner” in the regional push to attract foreign direct investments (FDI).

Dominica is one of several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that has a CBI programme providing citizenship to foreign investors in return for a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the island.

Skerrit at forum

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressing private sector forum

The other countries with such a programme include Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Kitts-Nevis.

But in recent weeks the CBI here has come under close scrutiny leading to the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the smaller Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) staging a protest march calling for Skerrit’s resignation and that of his entire Cabinet.

“We have created a product that is internationally competitive. A winner and a leader in the regional push to attract foreign and direct investment and stimulate job creation,” Skerrit told a private sector forum here.

“Moreover, unlike that which obtained in the banana industry, the CBI is a product which is owned by us, is marketed by us and from which the direct benefits go into our treasury and our economy”.

He said it is in the interest of the private sector “to do all that is possible to ensure that the CBI succeeds,” noting that its success “is a guarantor of success of the private sector”.

He said currently there is a heavy focus on hotel construction under the CBI with projects planned to come on stream this year “should result in a dramatic increase in five star quality rooms within the next two to three years.

“These new investments will stimulate demand in the economy and support expansion of the private enterprises as a supply chain to the sector grows and diversifies.”

He said that his administration has already approved financing to be loaned to a local investor to support the purchase of the Dominica Coconut product (DCP) plant from Colgate Palmolive for the resuming the manufacture of soap products here.

“I am sure all Dominicans would be happy to witness the re-commencement of the production of soaps and other products at this facility”.

In November 2015, the Dominica government said it had submitted a proposal to take over the local operations of Colgate-Palmolive, following the company’s decided to close its doors, putting an estimated 94 people on the breadline.

Prime Minister Skerrit said then that his government wants to enter a private treaty with Colgate-Palmolive to take over the DCP property, located in the western community of Belfast, and keep the operations going.

This is not the first time the Dominica government had made a move to acquire the company and that the new proposals had been submitted in November 2015.

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Gonsalves-at-AIA

PM says several dignatires coming for ceremonial opening of international airport

 
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 10, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says the list of invitees to next week’s ceremonial opening of the multi-million dollar Argyle International Airport will include “a couple of presidents” and “a vice-president”.

But Gonsalves, who has in the past described the EC$700 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) airport as one of his major political achievements, would not disclose the names of the foreign heads of government besides saying that one of them is Guyana’s President David Granger, who is also chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.

Gonsalves-at-AIA

Prime Minister Dr. ralph Gonsalves (center) at a visit to the airport on Wednesday

“I don’t think there is any overwhelming security issue attached to President Granger,” Gonsalves told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), adding later that the Cuban and Venezuelan governments will be represented at the event.

“A member of the Cuban government is coming. I ain’t telling you who. A member of the Venezuelan government is coming. I am not telling you who. Because I have to say thanks to them,” Gonsalves said.

Venezuela and Cuba have contributed significantly to the construction of the airport, which is opening six years behind schedule with a further EC$400 million added to the national debt.

Gonsalves said he is also hoping to bring back to St. Vincent for Tuesday’s event 60 of the Cubans who worked on the airport.

“You had, at various times, over 220 Cubans that came here and at one time, you had up to 112, but we are bringing back 60 of them to thank them, like we are thanking you,” the Prime Minister told the former property owners.

Gonsalves said all heads of government of the 15-member CARICOM have been invited to attend. But he said  Grenada Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and the Premier of Montserrat, Donaldson Romeo, have indicated that they have prior engagements, and so too “a couple of fellas”.

Gonsalves was especially hopeful that Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, whose country is the only independent CARICOM state without an international airport, would be able to attend the ceremonial opening on Tuesday.

“I hope Roosevelt will be able to come because I would like Roosevelt to come and see because he has the mind and he has a vision for an international airport so I want him to come and see it and be part of it.”

Gonsalves said that Hazel Manning, the widow of  former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Patrick Manning, will also attend the event.

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Linton-Skerritt

Prime Minister files lawsuit against Opposition Leader

ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 10, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has filed a lawsuit against Opposition Leader Lennox Linton seeking aggravated damages, for libel or slander following interviews and statements he gave to national and international media regarding the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI).

Dominica is one of several Caribbean countries with a CBI that grants citizenship to foreign investors in return for significant investments in the socio-economic development of the country.

Linton-Skerritt

Opposition Leader Linton I(left) and PM Skerrit. (File Photo)

In the lawsuit filed by his attorney Lennox Lawrence, Prime Minister Skerrit is also taking legal action against West Indies Communications Enterprises Limited, operators of the radio station (Q95 FM).

In the lawsuit, Skerrit claims that Linton made statements in various interviews with the Huffington Post and the American broadcaster CBS last month as well as at a public meeting that were libellous and slanderous.

The Prime Minister is also seeking damages from Linton for libel or slander in a letter sent to him on January 30, 2017, and copied to various other people including President Charles A Savarin; Members of Parliament; the Speaker of the House; Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders; the CARICOM Secretary General, the Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); the Secretary General of the United Nations as well as the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Skerrit claimed that in that letter Linton wrote that the Prime Minister has presided over a “corrupt Economic Citizenship programme that has compromised the global security architecture against money laundering and the financing of terrorism” and that he persist with the “practice of selling diplomatic passports and diplomatic immunity under the table to a band of international rogues and vagabonds” and listed a “gallery” of secretly appointed “rogue diplomats”.

Skerrit said that Linton’s claims were “false and defamatory”.

Skerrit is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, for libel or slander for the words published or caused to be published by Linton and damages, including aggravated damages, for libel or slander for the words broadcast or caused to be published by Q95FM.

Further, the Prime Minister is seeking an injunction restraining Linton, “whether by himself, his servants or agents or howsoever, or Q95FM whether by itself, its directors, servants or agents or howsoever from further publishing or causing to be published the said or similar defamatory words about him.

The Prime Minister is also seeking costs on the indemnity basis and/ or wasted costs against the defendants and further or other relief from the court.

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Assot Michael

Government orders probe into processing of passports under CIP

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Feb 10, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government has ordered a re-examination of the applications of 19 passport holders on suspicion that there was “political interference” in the decision to have them processed, Minister of Economic Investment Asot Michael, has said.

Michael, speaking at the weekly Cabinet news conference, said someone had contacted Prime Minister Gaston Browne and himself while they were on a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Michael said the review by the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of the approved applications for 17 Iranians and two Yemenis has already started.

Assot Michael

Asot Michael (File Photo)

“There was a very reputable businessman who was given a contract by the former administration to develop the entire port and to have exclusivity of the management for the port. He brought to light certain evidence about these Iranian passports,” Michael said.

“We have no evidence that there were any nefarious activities or that any of these applicants were involved in any terrorist or money laundering activities, “ Michael said, noting that out of an “abundance of caution” the application files are to be vetted through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC).

He told reporters “any evidence that the CIU will provide…will be turned over to the police for investigation,” adding that the probe was “not a case of this government going on any political witch-hunt”.

He said it was simply a reaction to “evidence” that there may have been “intervention on their behalf by high-ranking United Progressive Party officials”.

Michael said that the 19 persons applied for citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) “prior to June of 2014” when the present Browne administration came into office.

Michael did not specify when the applications were approved.

Antigua and Barbuda is among several Caribbean countries that provides citizenship to foreign investors in return for them making significant investments in the socio-eceonomic development of the country.

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Peter Philli

Phillips lone candidate for PNP president post

 
 
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 10, CMC – Former finance minister Dr. Peter Phillips has emerged as the lone candidate to replace the 71-year-old former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller as president of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP).

The PNP in a statement said that Phillips, 67, was the only person named when nominations for the post of president closed at 12 noon (local time) on Friday. It said that Phillips, the Member of Parliament for East Central St Andrew, had been nominated for the position.

Peter Philli

Dr. Peter Phillips

The party said that it is therefore expected that Phillips will be declared elected by acclamation, as the fifth president of the PNP when the party holds a special delegates conference on March 26.

In a statement, Phillips thanked supporters “for their overwhelming demonstration of confidence in my capacity to lead the party at this time when the country urgently needs more effective governance.”

He praised Simpson Miller, whom he said “has served her party and her country with dedication, strength, determination and courage during the years of her leadership.

“The conduct of the comrades throughout the nomination process has given the clearest indication of the priority that they place in the unity of the party as we embark on the renewal process.

“This unity is absolutely critical not only during the period of renewal but more so when we form the government if we are to achieve the objectives of building a more socially cohesive society, modernizing the economy ad make it more inclusive, and improving the delivery of critical social services. I invite all Jamaica to join us in this historic mission,” he added.

Last weekend, Simpson Miller, who led the party into defeat in the last general election held almost a year ago, announced that she would step down from the position on April 2.

Simpson Miller, told the party’s National Executive Council (NEC), that she would submit her resignation as opposition leader to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen after she makes her contribution to the budget debate in Parliament.

Simpson Miller said while she will aso resign as opposition leader, but will remain the Member of Parliament for St. Andrew South West.

Meanwhile, the PNP announced Friday that it is now moving to finalise arrangements for the special delegates’ conference, where the constitutional process of electing a new president will be completed.

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Caricomme

CARICOM distressed over acts of violence in Dominica

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 10, CMC – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping Friday said it was ‘deeply distressed” at the violence which broke out in Dominica earlier this week and appealed to all parties “to act with restraint and maintain law and order”.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Wednesday blamed the leadership of two opposition parties in his country for planning to storm his office and “seize the seat of power” during the disturbances that led to demonstrators setting fire to buildings and looting several businesses.

CaricommeIn his radio and television address Skerrit said that the demonstrators who had been calling for his resignation and that of his government on Tuesday had been being pushed by the “militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership” of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP).

The protesters had earlier during the day staged a demonstration on the street of the Financial Center where Skerrit’s office is housed, with Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and others defying a police command that their activities be held during the period 11.00 am to 3.00 pm (local time)..

Linton has since sought to distance himself and the party from the violence, condemning the ‘violence and the vandalism”.

In the brief statement, CARICOM Chairman President David Granger, who is also the head of state in Guyana, said that the regional integration grouping “is deeply distressed at the violence which broke out in Dominica following a public meeting on Tuesday.

“CARICOM recognizes the right of citizens to engage in peaceful protest. However, the Community condemns the vandalism which resulted in the destruction of private property and businesses.”

The statement urged “all to act with restraint and maintain the orderly and peaceful society to which Dominicans and the wider Community are accustomed”.

Skerrit said that at least 32 people had been arrested following the incidents.

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