Archive | Politics

Finance Minister stands by earlier statements on “drug fuelled” economy

Finance Minister stands by earlier statements on “drug fuelled” economy

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct 31, CMC – Finance Minister Winston Jordan Wednesday maintained that the Guyana economy was partly fuelled by drugs under the previous administration and brushed aside a request by a leading private sector group to provide evidence of the allegation.

Jordan, speaking at a news conference here, made reference to the request from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) for him to provide it with the evidence indicating that the local economy was partly fuelled by drugs money under the last government.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan speaking to reporters

He told reporters that there were two studies presented by Economics Professor Clive Thomas which pointed to the impact of drug money on the Guyanese economy pre-2015.

“I will tell you this much, where the economy is today is proof positive that the economy was being run by drugs, by significant input from drugs”, Jordan said, adding that when he made his statement in a letter to a local newspaper recently, he did not refer to any private sector body.

“Now if as Bob says who the cap fit, then that’s fine,” he said, adding that his statement was specific to some in the private sector who benefited from nefarious activities.

“I was amazed to be quite honest when I got a letter from that gentleman asking me to provide proof to the private sector. I was amazed”.

Jordan said that he is busy preparing the national budget and other activities of his Ministry and therefore does not have the time to waste on the request from the PSC.

Jordan told reporters that with at least US$300 million being projected for the government’s coffers from ExxonMobil’s LIZA One well during the first year, there will many expected improvements.

“There will be improvements in the cultural, social and economic areas,” he said, referring to the expected revenues from initial oil production in 2020.

But he cautioned that funds will be spent carefully and in accordance with proposed legislation intended to govern the use of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

This legislation is being finalized by the Ministry of Legal Affairs, with assistance from stakeholders from Commonwealth, Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Jordon told reporters that the expected funds will be kept in the SWF, then transferred to the Consolidated Fund, before it can be utilized.

He said one area being considered for improvements is the pensions of former managers and other government officials who, as a result of currency devaluations and other factors, receive a basic minimum pension.

Guyana is projecting commercial production of its oil sector by 2020 and according to the government, other areas of priority include infrastructural development, and agriculture, housing and manufacturing sectors.

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Skerrit-and-Dominicans

PM vows to defend the rights of Dominicans overseas to vote in general elections

ROSEAU, Dominica, Nov 1, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Thursday said he would defend the rights of Dominicans residing overseas to vote in general elections in the country.

“As long as I am prime minister of this country and from what some people are telling me, it will be for a very long time to come, we shall defend your right under the constitution of Dominica, to vote in Dominica’s election,” Prime Minister Skerrit visiting Dominicans who have arrived here to celebrate the island’s 40th anniversary political independence from Britain on Saturday.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (second from
left)
and members of his Cabinet at the meeting

with overseas Dominicans

The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has in the past been very critical of the decision to allow Dominicans residing abroad to come here days before the polls to cast ballots and has accused the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) of being the main actor behind the move.

But Skerrit told the overseas nationals “we will defend your right because it is a right and there is no institution in this country that has any legal or constitutional authority to remove your name on the voters list unless you are a dead person in Dominica because voting is too much of an important, fundamental right.

“People die to vote, people shed blood to vote and we want to go back to the days when only land own

“We making progress and we have to be progressive in our thinking and we cannot go back to old days. Those who want to go back to the old days, will stay where they are and we’ll continue to move forward,” Skerrit said.

While the two political parties generally agree that there is a need for electoral reform in Dominica, they disagree on major points on how to implement such reforms.

Political observers note that the proposed amendments by the DLP government, for confirmation or registration of Dominicans living overseas, in the Registration of Electors Act have become a sticking point

The amendments of the Act reads, “In order to facilitate confirmation in accordance with this part of persons residing overseas, the office of any mission or embassy of the State or any other place approved by the Commission may be designated as a registration office and the registering, enrolment officer and assistant registering officer shall be appointed under the direction of the Chief Registering Officer for that purpose.”

But the UWP has said it is “uncompromisingly opposed” to the proposed amendments which will allow specially designated voter registration offices overseas.

“The United Workers Party is uncompromisingly opposed to the proposed Amendments to the Registration of Elector’s Act seeking to authorize confirmation of persons on the list of eligible voters at specially designated registration offices overseas,” UWP leader Lennox Linton told a news conference in September.

“The explanation we have heard from a government that such action is necessary to protect the right to vote and thereby prevent this infringement of voters living overseas is seriously flawed and absolutely without merit.”

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Antigua and Barbuda observing 37th anniversary of independence

Antigua and Barbuda observing 37th anniversary of independence

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 1, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda is celebrating its 37th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Thursday, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne saying that independence would not be complete with London still being in control of the country’s judicial system.

Voters go to the polls on November 6 in a referendum to decide whether to retain the Privy Council or choose instead the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final court.

Prime Minister Browne in a radio and television broadcast said that it was necessary for the island to remember the history of the trade union movement as well as the right to vote in the country before the attainment of independence.

He said there were those who are still opposed to the move towards the CCJ, which was established in 2001 and also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

“They know, but they refuse to say it that only the wealthy or specially funded persons can access appeals to the British Privy Council even up to today. They know that it costs more than EC$150,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) on average to take a case to London and that no poor person in Antigua and Barbuda has ever been able to do so.”

Prime Minister Gaston Browne addressing the nation on
the 37th anniversary of political independence (CMC Photo)

Browne said those opposed to the move know “that by retaining the Privy Council they are depriving the ordinary citizens of our country to justice to which every one of them is rightly entitled.

“They also know that access to justice is affordable with the Caribbean Court of Justice. That is a fully and independent appellate court. It is funded by a trust fund, not directed by any government. No government has a hand in the appointment of judges, they are appointed by an independent Caribbean legal services commission.”

Browne told the nation that in the 13 years since it had been in operation, the CCJ “has handed down more decisions against governments than for them.

“They know that the CCJ is a court for the people, built by Caribbean people for all the people. But it suits them even in this 37th year of our independence to deny our people pride in who we are and what we are, and to make us as inferior by suggesting that we do not have the integrity to preside over our own dispensation of justice”.

Prime Minister Browne said this “type of self-hatred and condemnation of our own has no place in our modern and enlightened society”.

He told the nation that on November 6, they must show the naysayers and others “that we believe in ourselves, that we are the inferior of none, that we have confidence in our capacity and certainly in our own.

“We must show them they are the backward looking ones mired in partisan politics and selfishness,” he added.

In his address, Prime Minister Browne also told citizens that despite the challenges the twin-island nation has accomplished much to be proud of.

“Antigua and Barbudans live in a country where the air of freedom and economic opportunity is breathed by all where no one lives in fear for their opinion being stifled or of their rights being constrained,” Browne said in his independence message.

He said these were not conditions available to the population before independence, adding “there was much inequality based on race and class and of colour”.

Browne said the health sector stands out like a jewel in the list of accomplishment since independence and thanked “those heroes” whom he said had the foresight to ensure that their descendants should have a better future.

“They made it possible for us to be where we are today. Their legacy must never be squandered, nor their struggle wasted. They looked to the future and even as we honour them we must look to the future too,” Browne said in his radio and television broadcast.

He said the future must include a stable financial environment, better education, improved health services as well as full employment among other goals “for all our peoples whatever their background.

“This is not an impossible dream. We are not striving to reach and unreachable star or to fight an unbeatable foe. This is a glorious quest for which we have already begun the resolute march with measurable and evidence success.”.

Browne said that his administration will be spending millions of dollars in developing the infrastructure of the island and ensuring employment opportunities for all nationals.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque has praised the island’s “invaluable contribution” to regional integration.

“Under your leadership as Head of Government responsible for Services within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, Antigua and Barbuda has advanced the region’s efforts, as it seeks to build competitiveness, unleash key economic drivers to growth and address the grave challenges to its financial services,” LaRocque said in his congratulatory message to Prime Minister Browne.

He said that Antigua and Barbuda has made great strides in its development since independence.

“Indeed the theme for this year’s Independence celebration, “Antigua and Barbuda: Forward Together” is an apt reflection of the firm determination and steadfastness of the Antiguan and Barbudan people in their efforts to ensure the sustainable development of the nation,” he added.

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Motion against Premier Donaldson Romeo government defeated

Motion against Premier Donaldson Romeo government defeated

BRADES, Montserrat, Oct 29, CMC – The motion of no confidence against the government of Premier Donaldson Romeo was defeated as expected on Monday after all five government legislators voted to keep the four-year old administration in office.

“I wish the PDM (People’s Democratic Movement) well in the next year in office,” said opposition member Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, who had tabled the motion against the government, she was once a member.

Premier Donaldson Romeo, speaking in Parliament
on Monday (CMC Photo)

But as she wound up the debate, she said she wanted to caution Montserratians “to vote wisely” adding “let us not make the same mistake”.

The motion was born out of her disgruntlements and disatisfaction, with the Ministry of Health, surrounding health care, ending in her request to the health minnister Delmaude Ryan to resign, and to the Premier to dismiss her if she didn’t resign.

Buffonge said that she was pleased in bringing the motion since it was important to “hold the government to account”, but acknowledged that the vote would not be in support of removing the Romeo administration, no doubt in apparent reference to the decision by former agriculture minister Claude Hogan to side with the government.

Some obviously uninformed so-called political observers had expected Hogan, who was fired by Romeo last year, to vote in support of the opposition that included two former PDM members.

But when he made his contribution to the debate, arriving back from the UK moments earlier on Thursday night, Hogan said that he had no intention of voting against the government that came to power in 2014, winning seven of the nine seats at stake in the Legislative Assembly.

“We should withdraw the vote of no confidence.  If you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan, putting to nought the observers speculations.

Buffonge, had earlier said that she wanted to inform legislators, foreign investors and other stakeholders interested in the development of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory that the motion does not signal “political instability” here.

“My colleagues in opposition and myself as well as others who will be elected in the next general election, and I do speak for some of them no, after four years of getting things so terribly wrong we pledge to get it right.”

Earlier Premier Romeo dismissed the arguments made against by the opposition as he defended his tenure in office.

He told legislators also that while being appreciative of the role Britain plays in the development of the volcano ravaged island, London was also imposing all manner of restrictions stifling his administration.

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Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 30, CMC – The majority of people in Antigua and Barbuda favour replacing the London-based Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Appeal, according to an opinion poll released here on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) found that 62 per cent of the 800 people polled during the period October 12-14, said they supported a move to the Trinidad-based CCJ as the island’s final court.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote in a referendum on November 6.

CADRES said that the opinion poll was devoted to an exploration of the referendum issue and sought to understand how Antiguans felt about the CCJ in principle and also how they planned to vote on November 6 .

“In addition, questions as to major reasons why people supported and opposed the CCJ were explored in an effort to provide some amount of context on this issue,” the pollster said, adding that the methodology used was similar to that of previous CADRES polls in Antigua and Barbuda.

It said the face to face survey exercise was conducted by interviewers who administered a short, standardised questionnaire to approximately 800 respondents that were randomly selected from all constituencies across Antigua.

According to CADRES, the majority of those polled (62 per cent) said they “Supported the move to the CCJ” either now or in the future, while 17 per cent said they “did not support the move to the CCJ” and 22 per cent preferred “not to say” how they felt about this issue.

“Thereafter respondents were presented with a list of possible reasons why they would vote “For” or “Against” the CCJ and asked to indicate which single reason appealed to them most. Among those who supported the CCJ, the most compelling reason was the suggestion that the CCJ was “cheaper to access” while” those who opposed the CCJ thought that it would be “more open to political influence”.

CADRES said that responses to the central question of how persons intend to vote at this time if restricted to those committed to vote either “For” or “Against” demonstrate that the required threshold of 66.6 per cent has narrowly been achieved at this time.

However, CADRES would caution that this outcome could be affected either by any variation in the margin of error of the poll (+/- 5%) or if the participation of the Barbudan voters (two per cent) shifts the pendulum away from the “Yes” vote”.

CADRES acknowledged that the views of Barbudans were not canvased on this occasion, but noted that a 2016 poll did cover the island still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

“Comparatively, we note a marginal improvement in the level of support for the CCJ, a plus two per cent compared to a marginal reduction in the level of opposition, a minus two per cent, which can easily be explained by the exclusion of Barbuda on this occasion which was purely on account of our client’s timeline for completion”.

In October 2016 CADRES indicated that it felt the referendum would “narrowly achieve the margin necessary for the measure to pass” and at this time “we are similarly persuaded, but caution that the margin here is “razor thin”.

CADRES said it also explored the reasons for support and opposition more exhaustively and noted that the primary characteristic that separated those “For” from those “Against” is their political affiliation with supporters of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) being more inclined to support the CCJ, while supporters of the United Progressive Party (UPP) are less inclined.

“This relationship was noted in 2016 an is no less pronounced on this occasion, notwithstanding efforts to de-politicise the vote. There were; however other reasons for support and opposition gleaned on this occasion and we believe that this information will be a useful basis for dialogue in the final weeks leading up to November 6, 2018,” CADRES said.

The CCJ was established by regional governments on 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean final court. But while most of the regional countries are members of the court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaraas that governs the regional integration movement.

Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, voters will also be casting ballots in a referendum on November 6 on the CCJ issue.

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 27, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating its 39th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Saturday with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicating that the country has made “modest’ economic growth over the past year.

Addressing the Military Parade here, Gonsalves said that th3e island’s diversified economy is growing and being placed on a sound footing.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves addressing
the Military parade (CMC Photo)

“Indeed this year, our country is experiencing economic growth albeit it modest following upon marginal to modest economic growth in each of the last seven years.

“At the same time the government’s fiscal condition has improved despite the loss of substantial resources under the PetroCaribe agreement occasioned by the unwise banking and financial sanctions against Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

Gonsalves told the nation that amidst all the challenges facing the country “we have not gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor have we sold our citizenship and passport” he said in reference to the move by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to lure foreign investors through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) that allows them to get citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries.

“Our passports and citizenship are not commodities for sale. We oppose such sale in principle and in practice. I so re-affirm today,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the various sectors of the economy, including the banking, and credit unions “continue to play a significant role in our country’s development.

“Current initiatives by the state sector facilitate and fuel further developmental advance. We see so in the consolidating and expansion of education, health and housing revolution,” he said, noting the new Argyle International Airport is now playing a significant role in the development of the tourism industry.

He said those who had been very critical of the airport were on the losing side “again and again and again” and that the “existing hotel stock is expanding and new hotels and apartments are currently being built”.

He also made reference to the proposed US$145 million modern cargo project and the multi-million dollar plans to re-develop the city.

In his address, Gonsalves said that during the period 2010-17, St. Vincent and the Grenadines suffered losses estimated at EC$700 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) or one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the impact of climate change.

“Climate change is now unfamiliar in time, type and seasonality. Unprecedented in their frequency and intensity and thus urgent beyond measure. Both the pre-existing condition of countries like ours and the immediacy of climate change have given rise to the many sided concept of small state exceptionalism as a category in the global political economy which deserves a special carve out and recognition beyond the traditional rubric hitherto of special and differential treatment,” Gonsalves added.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has extended congratulations to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, saying that  “the chosen theme for this year’s festivities ‘Working together to enhance national pride’ encourages Vincentians to combine their efforts, not only to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the next generation, but also to strengthen their fraternal bonds.

“Prime Minister, the commitment of the government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in promoting regional integration, particularly as it relates to the Regional agenda for transport, is most appreciated.

“This is illustrated by the dedicated efforts to ensure that the importance of transport to the sustainable development of the Community remains at the forefront”, LaRocque added.

Gonsalves is the prime minister with lead responsibility for Transportation, Maritime and Aviation in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet.

“CARICOM looks forward to the continued active engagement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in strengthening the development of the Community,” the Secretary-General said.

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Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 26, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is expected to be among witnesses summoned to testify in a financial wrongdoings and corrupt practices investigation into the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).

The probe is being undertaken by the Office of Integrity Commission and Mitchell confirmed that he is prepared to be called as a witness.

“Question under oath is coming, they (the Integrity Commission) sought to have resources from us and we were positive to that; They may call me too, but as I say I am prepared to be called to give an idea of my knowledge and information,” Mitchell told reporters, when asked to provide an update on the investigation which was announced in July.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

As a state-owned enterprise, the MNIB falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance headed by Mitchell.

The Commission was established to ensure that public officials uphold high standards of integrity in the performance of their public functions and to give effect to the provisions of The Inter-American Convention against Corruption. It will assist in improving the standards of good governance, transparency and accountability in government.

In July, Mitchell announced that Cabinet had endorsed a recommendation for a thorough investigation amid revelations of possible inappropriate use of MNIB funds.

Mitchell had also acknowledged that a lot had gone wrong at the MNIB and following the appointment of a new board in March, the then chief executive officer, Ruel Edwards left his job for a new post within the Ministry of Economic Development.

Edwards has since been placed on leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the body that contracted him to the post to the new post.

In September, the Integrity Commission said that further to media reports and statements circulating about financial wrongdoings at the MNIB it had commenced investigations into the operations of the board.

Mitchell said that Cabinet will endorse the Commission investigation and will accept its findings.

He told reporters Wednesday that the investigation will be led by “outside legal personnel” and that other government departments were also under investigations by the Commission.

“We have to be honest with ourselves, those who don’t want to admit it that is their business…if we want to say there are not corrupt practice within the public service, the could say so, I know there is corruption in every single Department of Government, that is a fact, it may be at different levels,” he said.

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Those looking to be masters of this country...

Those looking to be masters of this country…

need to be honest about serving

October 26, 2018

For some months we have been trying to get our leaders and people to understand the buy-in to what it really needs to take Montserrat forward, back to the place it once was and beyond; to the place where it was once able to balance its recurrent budget. What it needs to stop the UK DFID officials from simply being coy in their response to our sometimes-erroneous continuous demands.

Expected capital development and development generally had been planned –with a three-year development plan in place. There was a spanking new hospital, parliament building, port and more; additional school buildings, and very importantly an Indian donation of an agro-processing plant.

With all that and more in place at the beginning of 1995 there was already approval for the big upgrade to Blackburne airport, but the timing and the ignorance of the Wadge (volcanic) report of the 80s, the onset of volcanic activity brought pause and attention to nature. Montserrat now had to relook its understanding of what it would need to move into the next 300-400 years. Briefly that’s where Montserrat was, with a government that started out with a promising future in 1991, but with all the above was floundering into failure, brought to extinction in the 1996 elections and the UK’s promise to begin rebuilding Montserrat in the north.

Since then we have always said from here, since 1998, that unless the rebuild was as good and in fact better than anything that existed pre-1995, there was no seriousness in the effort, especially that all this was built on a plan called ‘Sustainable development”. We still believe that is a bad word phrase, yet we continue to hear it. So much so that when we hear the words today, we realise that the user should not be allowed anywhere near the leadership of planning for this island going forward.

Where is Montserrat since then? Listening to these people, and their behaviour for some time within the last two years at least, recent as last week, to the criticisms, utterances and performances of most, we maintain that if you can pick two from the lot and the names we hear ‘unofficially’ being published along with their pronouncements or lack thereof, there is much work to be desired and work to be done.

Well, our prayer is that people pay attention, spiritually and otherwise as there is much darkness around and there is really no light peeping through. If we look carefully, intelligently, we will see that the degrees, and more are not at all what it takes, but merely being sufficiently educated, which then is when intellect will show. Imagine we are well aware that these statements may stun some people thus exposing their ignorance and their lack of understanding and appreciation of the kind of leadership needed. Indeed, it is the kind so many call crazy, because these thoughts are usually out of reach of the ordinary, especially when corrupted with selfishness and greed.

We regret to note that the motion of no confidence and all relative to it has shown a kind of ignorance that are far not suited for this. Would these people after all of that week of time wasting when much work far more important business can be transacted, benefit from a few ‘educated’ if only critics, sit and break down the ignorance? The nothings that are being said, people posturising themselves with questions and statements that are damning only to themselves. There is sooo much to go around. Oh yes! There are problems, but they all hide in ignorance.

Since 2008 HMG (DFID) announced that they were ready or had begun to see Montserrat in a new light and that while mistakes had been made they admitted to the ‘one step forward and two backwards’ approach, the sustainable development farce, they were ready to tackle seriously Montserrat’s future development.

Dr. Lowell Lewis was chief minister in 2008 and to this day all he does is try to bring unity to a government that he believes and what others call for, some or most of them only within their closed quarters. The kind of unity the doctor speaks about, who himself only recently received a doctorate for his genius work in the medical field, getting mention for his political work, is one that bring the minds like his, to work for the beloved land and people of Montserrat. Bring to us testimonials against pomp, abuse, jealousy, selfishness and greed.

There are not many people here in Montserrat, who will understand the sad history of our politics, over let’s say the last 40 years. We cannot count those far away as the efforts so far to involve them have only been misguided if not misunderstood.

Then, there are those of course who we must just forego as not being fit anyway.

Maybe these few words might awake the sensibilities of our people to include all, about their ignorance, that an honest look at serving rather than being master will begin a move in the right direction as we begin to look towards a general election by the end of next year.

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DSC_9985

A Motion – Wasting the people’s time of confidence, importance and business

Former agriculture minister Claude Hogan

Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne set the opening of parliament to take place, successfully, on a somewhat grand scale on Tuesday, October 23 in the Sir George Martin Auditorium at the Montserrat Cultural Centre. She sought to give some prominence by holding the opening against any competing matter of the house by dedicating the day to just the opening, especially with the knowledge that the first sitting after that would include the (strange, if not ill-conceived) motion of a vote of no confidence.

Speaker Osborne had asked for and looked forward to hosting a full house at the Opening Ceremony of the Parliamentary year 2018-2019, in her continuing attempt to bring (back) long lost interest in the proceedings of the newly named eight-year old Legislative Assembly (LegAss), known before that as the Legislative Council (LegCo).

The sitting therefore set to begin on the following day Wednesday, got underway with a full membership minus PDM Government backbencher Claude Hogan, who by the way, could be considered the most senior legislator having begun his political career since 2001. On a side 2001 was the first year that the Premier Romeo had sought to show his interest in a political career.

Hon. Dr Ingrid Buffonge

Speaker Osborne, who has very early and since been trying to lift the standard of the proceedings in the house, but perhaps to her own style found early at the beginning of the session she might have discord and poor behavior from some of our far from esteemed legislators, the reason in the first place certain matters appeared on the agenda for the sitting.

She was faced right away with a motion to bring forward the motion of no confidence to the  beginning of the order of business. That began a show of ignorance and incompetence to some degree among members and some no doubt to her own difficulties of trying to be firm and liberal. The motion was defeated when the ‘ex-officio members’ (non-elected) were able to vote.

So, the order paper remained as is and the more important matters, if only for relevance and importance proceeded.

Premier Donaldson Romeo

But with some interest, not surprisingly supposedly among the public of Montserrat at the end of the second day of the sitting and the arrival of Hon Hogan, Premier Donaldson Romeo (the government) from all appearance seemed to have staved off an attempt by disgruntled opposition legislators (old and new) to bring down his administration when a key government backbencher indicated that he had no intention of supporting a vote of no confidence in Romeo’s four-year-old administration.

Former agriculture minister Claude Hogan, it is felt in some quarters held the key to the survival of the government that faced an uphill task to complete its first five-year term, but when the debate on the motion was adjourned late Thursday night to Monday, Hogan had already made his position known to legislators.

“We should withdraw the vote of no confidence.  If you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan.

The government hold a slim one seat majority in the nine-member Legislative Assembly and political observers had expected Hogan, who was dismissed by Romeo last year, to have sided with the opposition that included two former members of the ruling People’s Democratic Movement (PDM).

Premier Romeo has not yet made his contribution to the debate, but Hogan said while he had been disappointed when he was fired, “after a year I can’t remember what happened”.

Moreover, Hogan said he still intends to contest his present seat in the next general election, adding that the vote of no confidence is nothing more than an early start to the 2019 general election campaign.

Earlier, Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, a former member of the ruling PDM, who piloted the motion of no confidence, likened the situation to a “day of history” for Montserrat.

She said she also wanted to inform legislators, foreign investors and other stakeholders interested in the development of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory that the motion does not signal “political instability” here.

“My colleagues in opposition and myself as well as others who will be elected in the next general election, and I do speak for some of them no, after four years of getting things so terribly wrong we pledge to get it right.”

She said encouraging and supporting foreign direct investment, encouraging local investors, assisting local producers with exporting the Montserrat product, securing capital projects, building equipping and appropriately staffing a new hospital   “are among the reasons behind the motion.

“In bringing this motion, I am simply fulfilling the will of the people who live on this island. A people who knows what happens in a place when you speak out against the government,” she said, adding that “people are afraid of losing their jobs and being victimised in other ways.

She said while she had sympathy for Premier Romeo this does not translate to support for his policies.

“She said he had failed to secure capital projects for the island, “his acceptance of a port project that will push as much development as the little airport that we have, his one-track mind focus on securing aid money instead of promoting investment all show his lack of vision and leave the people of this country feeling hungry.

“He claims he wants more control to be given to his government by the British government, but I ask what is it he wants more control of,” she asked.

Buffonge, who received the second highest number of votes in the September 2014 elections on the PDM slate, resigned from the party a year later and two weeks ago, called for the resignation of Health Minister Delmaude Ryan.

But Ryan told legislators that the debate was nothing more than a personal attack on her and that the government was doing its best to ensure the development of the health sector.

In his contribution, Hogan said that “we can’t make a political issue of the health sector” adding that no one has come up with a solution to the governance of Montserrat.

“Everybody should behave and try to foster a proper democracy,” he added.

Former junior minister, Gregroy Willock, who resigned from the government and the party and government earlier this month, nonetheless predicted that the vote at the end of the motion will be a 7-2 in favour of the opposition.

‘When we done it will be history and it will be a very significant day,” he added.

The 2014 general election was a victory for the newly established PDM, which was formed by Romeo on April 30 that year, in order to contest the elections.

The party defeated the then ruling Movement for Change and Prosperity, the Alliance of Independent Candidates and 10 other independents.

Much of the meanderings that went on including at least one opposition member saying he was not going to support the motion, but will after hearing some government members; reminding that it was not the two MCAP members who lead the opposition bench that brought the motion; reports that one member sitting on the opposition benches on more than one occasion pointed a hand as if shooting a gun at a member or members, on the other side of the house.

All of this really showed that the motion of no confidence in the first instance only served to show some of these members interested only in their own self-interest and well-being, and not fit to be representatives of the people’s interests and business.

There was at least one instance the Speaker was known to say to the members, “let’s have a time out,” “take a time out” or words to that effect. Earlier on Tuesday there was dead air (ZJB even cut the broadcast) as she waited for members to begin debating the motion after it was moved and seconded.

It is obvious as it has been throughout that the eventual possibility of a rushed election what ever the outcome of the vote, is not in the interest of the island, much more some of the members and particularly those bring the motion.

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Saudi official gives new version of Khashoggi killing: Report

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Read more at: https://epeak.in/2018/10/21/saudi-official-gives-new-version-of-khashoggi-killing-report-saudi-arabia-news/

Saudi official gives new version of Khashoggi killing: Report | Saudi Arabia News

 A senior Saudi Arabian government official has laid out a new version of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that in key respects contradicts previous explanations. 

The latest account, provided by a Saudi official who requested anonymity, includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi on October 2 had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and then killed him in a chokehold when he resisted. A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.

After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for more than two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning said he had died in a fistfight at the consulate.

An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold, which the senior official reiterated to Reuters.

Turkish officials suspect the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was cut up but the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal.

Asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that.

The Saudi official presented what he said were Saudi internal intelligence documents which appeared to show the initiative to bring back dissidents as well as the specific one involving Khashoggi.

He also showed testimony from those involved in what he described as the 15-man team’s cover-up, and the initial results of an internal probe.

He did not provide proof to substantiate the findings of the investigation and the other evidence.

This narrative is the latest Saudi account that has changed multiple times. The authorities initially dismissed reports that Khashoggi had gone missing inside the consulate as false and said he had left the building soon after entering.

When the media reported a few days later that he had been killed there, they called the accusations “baseless.”

Asked by Reuters why the government’s version of Khashoggi’s death kept changing, the official said the government initial account was based on “false information reported internally at the time”.

“Once it became clear these initial mission reports were false, it launched an internal investigation and refrained from further public comment,” the official said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

Turkish sources say the authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate but have not released it.

Riyadh dispatched a high-level delegation to Istanbul on Tuesday and ordered an internal investigation but US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he is not satisfied with Saudi Arabia’s handling of Khashoggi’s death and said questions remain unanswered.

Germany and France on Saturday called Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how Khashoggi died incomplete.

According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies, the official said.

To that end, the official said, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15-member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

“There is a standing order to negotiate the return of dissidents peacefully; which gives them the authority to act without going back to the leadership” the official said.”

Al-Asiri is the one who formed the team and asked for an employee who worked with (Saud) al-Qahtani and who knew Jamal from the time they both worked at the embassy in London,” he said. The official said al-Qahtani had signed off on one of his employees conducting the negotiations

After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for more than two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning said he had died in a fistfight at the consulate.

An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold, which the senior official reiterated to Reuters. Turkish officials suspect the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was cut up but the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal.

Asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that. The Saudi official presented what he said were Saudi internal intelligence documents which appeared to show the initiative to bring back dissidents as well as the specific one involving Khashoggi.

He also showed testimony from those involved in what he described as the 15-man team’s cover-up, and the initial results of an internal probe. He did not provide proof to substantiate the findings of the investigation and the other evidence.

This narrative is the latest Saudi account that has changed multiple times. The authorities initially dismissed reports that Khashoggi had gone missing inside the consulate as false and said he had left the building soon after entering.

When the media reported a few days later that he had been killed there, they called the accusations “baseless.”

Asked by Reuters why the government’s version of Khashoggi’s death kept changing, the official said the government initial account was based on “false information reported internally at the time”.

“Once it became clear these initial mission reports were false, it launched an internal investigation and refrained from further public comment,” the official said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

Turkish sources say the authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate but have not released it.

Riyadh dispatched a high-level delegation to Istanbul on Tuesday and ordered an internal investigation but US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he is not satisfied with Saudi Arabia’s handling of Khashoggi’s death and said questions remain unanswered.

Germany and France on Saturday called Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how Khashoggi died incomplete.

According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies, the official said.

To that end, the official said, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15-member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

“There is a standing order to negotiate the return of dissidents peacefully; which gives them the authority to act without going back to the leadership” the official said.”

Al-Asiri is the one who formed the team and asked for an employee who worked with (Saud) al-Qahtani and who knew Jamal from the time they both worked at the embassy in London,” he said.

The official said al-Qahtani had signed off on one of his employees conducting the negotiations.

Chokehold

According to the plan, the team could hold Khashoggi in a safe house outside Istanbul for “a period of time” but then release him if he ultimately refused to return to Saudi Arabia, the official said.

Things went wrong from the start as the team overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence, the official said.

Khashoggi was ushered into the consul general’s office where an operative named Maher Mutreb spoke to him about returning to Saudi Arabia, according to the government’s account.

Khashoggi refused and told Mutreb that someone was waiting outside for him and would contact the Turkish authorities if he did not reappear within an hour, the official said.

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, has told Reuters he had handed her his two mobile phones and left instructions that she should wait for him and call an aide to Turkey’s president if he did not reappear.

Back inside the consul’s office, according to the official’s account, Khashoggi told Mutreb he was violating diplomatic norms and said, “What are you going to do with me? Do you intend to kidnap me?”

Mutreb replied, “Yes, we will drug you and kidnap you,” in what the official said was an attempt at intimidation that violated the mission’s objective.

When Khashoggi raised his voice, the team panicked. They moved to restrain him, placing him in a chokehold and covering his mouth, according to the government’s account. “They tried to prevent him from shouting but he died,” the official said. “The intention was not to kill him.”

Asked if the team had smothered Khashoggi, the official said: “If you put someone of Jamal’s age in this position, he would probably die.”

Missing body

To cover up their misdeed, the team rolled up Khashoggi’s body in a rug, took it out in a consular vehicle and handed it over to a “local cooperator” for disposal, the official said. Forensic expert Salah Tubaigy tried to remove any trace of the incident, the official said.

Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi’s killers may have dumped his remains in Belgrad Forest adjacent to Istanbul, and at a rural location near the city of Yalova, 90 kilometers south of Istanbul.

Turkish investigators are likely to find out what happened to the body “before long,” a senior official said.

The Saudi official said the local cooperator is an Istanbul resident but would not reveal his nationality. The official said investigators were trying to determine where the body ended up.

Meanwhile, operative Mustafa Madani donned Khashoggi’s clothes, eyeglasses and Apple watch and left through the back door of the consulate in an attempt to make it look like Khashoggi had walked out of the building. Madani went to the Sultanahmet district where he disposed of the belongings.

The official said the team then wrote a false report for superiors saying they had allowed Khashoggi to leave once he warned that Turkish authorities could get involved and that they had promptly left the country before they could be discovered.

Sceptics have asked why so many people, including military officers and a forensics expert specialising in autopsies, were part of the operation if the objective was to convince Khashoggi to return home of his own volition.

The official said all 15 team members had been detained and placed under investigation, along with three other local suspects.

Read more at: https://epeak.in/2018/10/21/saudi-official-gives-new-version-of-khashoggi-killing-report-saudi-arabia-news//

Posted in Crime, Featured, International, Local, News, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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