Premier Romeo fires Minister Hogan, replaced by Osborne

By Bennette Roach

Initially creating the potential for the dissolution of parliament and new General Elections

A storm more critical to the overall future of Montserrat ensued while this newspaper was about to feature the previous week’s disastrous visit of hurricane Irma that left deaths and near total destruction to some of our close neighbours and sister Overseas territories.

This presentation is different as we have not been able to publish (in print or online) as a result of Hurricane Maria’s visit and passage, that finished off some from Irma’s visit and adding to the disaster to the northern Caribbean.

Some PDM team at the start of their governing stint – l-r: Hons. Ryan, Hogan, Lewis (ministers) Willock (standing Duberry un-elected) and Premier Romeo. On the Warren Cassell ZJB radio show

Romeo (with three Ministers) was sworn into office in September 2014, after leading the People’s Democratic Movement of Montserrat (PDM) to victory defeating the incumbent Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) – 7-2 headed by Premier Reuben T. Meade. (None of the independents were considered. The result was mainly due to the top class winning campaign strategy conducted by Dr. Newton Isaac, which afterwards had been surprisingly discounted by some of the beneficiaries.)

I was seeking clarification from Premier Romeo about what the now relieved Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Claude Hogan had said on Thursday, Sept. 14 as reported by ZJB Radio regarding, “where there is smoke there is fire”; following reports that were rampant especially after the Minister had also denied there were plans afoot to replace Romeo as the party observed its third anniversary in office from Sept 12, 2014.

Hon. Claude Hogan speaking at Gap Analysis workshop

Premier Romeo briefly explained how he was accosted by members at what was supposed to be a ‘house party’ then showed me his statement prepared for the media as he waited for the Instrument of Revocation of Minister Hogan’s appointment to the said Ministry to be delivered to the Minister.

He announced he had just held a meeting with his Ministers and other members of his government, where he advised that he was revoking Minister Hogan’s appointment, and that he had asked one of the two Parliamentary Secretaries backbenchers to accept the vacant ministry. That was Hon. David Osborne who was eventually sworn in as a Minister, replacing Hogan on September 21, one week later as the Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment in accordance with 33(2) of the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010.

Delmaude Ryan

Paul Lewis – CSA president at CPSA 2012 Convention in Montserrat

There had been several stories (rumours some turned out to be) of what transpired leading up to the firing of Hogan. This being correct, that a contingent of persons comprising On. Hogan, Hon. Minister Paul Lewis; Hons. David Osborne and Gregory Willock, to H E Governor Elizabeth Carriere where they informed her that they have among other things lost confidence in Premier Romeo and wish to replace his leadership. What was not correct is that Hon. Ingrid Buffong, independent, had failed to show to join these four, moments before she was on her way to exit Montserrat to pursue her Chevening scholarship. Nearer the truth is that she had actually turned them down and promised to the Premier, her belief in his efforts, but informing party leaders of the threat. Also dubious, with conflicting information, that Hon. Delmaude Ryan was named as supporting the four while with the Governor.

Earlier this had prompted a reminder of the post-election 2006 debacle when talks between Chief Minister elect by the NPLM group and the MCAP four elected members broke down. Following that one member of that party had then sought to put together a team of at least five persons to approach the Governor, Deborah Barnes Jones. That MCAP member, not the then leader Roselyn Cassell-Sealy, had approached former CM David Brandt who was then just reelected after he had not contested the 2001 elections to complement this new group. Reportedly Brandt gave his positive response but was at the moment preparing to join Lewis and the three NPLM members to form the new Government.

The four-member grouping on this occasion, according to one credible report had actually been waiting in expectation for the Premier to join them as he was to admit to the Governor his agreement to step aside, allowing someone else to take on the helm.

Investigations have shown that at least two of these persons, the numbers and individuals changing at times, do not attend some of the Party’s caucus meetings under new chairmanship since Hon. Shirley Osborne quit that position when she became the new Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Further information, but uncorroborated, was that Hon. Dr. Sammy Joseph was later approached to make up the team, but declined as one had heard former MCAP leader R T Meade had said repeatedly his party would not be involved in any such ‘shenanigans’ and that the PDM party should get their act together (the real difficulty PDM faced from early) and try and get the island on a better footing. But who knows, circumstances change and opportunities when available, may see strange reverses.

ZJB carried the following conversation with Claude Hogan and also Gregory Willock. Hogan said: “I am not confirming anything like vote of no confidence or soon because that comes as a matter of Parliament. We have not gone there yet,” he said, even as he told radio listeners “where there is smoke there must be fire’.

He refers to the ‘caucus’ – “This is one of the problems I have in respect of some of my caucus members. It’s just like you cannot express yourself about reformation or changes that you think on this third anniversary would make us more resilient,” but continued, “Of course, you have to have these discussions. I don’t want the people to see it like we are trying to overthrow or remove anybody. We are having discussions about what we need to do different and we can’t fire the Premier. The Premier can fire each and every one of us, I want to make that very clear.”

“But we have to force him to come to the table with us to decide what does he think, what would he agree with in the context of our discussions that are the new things we need to do,” Hogan said.

The question who everyone asks, all of whom believe he should have been dismissed long ago, “How can he say that (above) and end up going to the Governor seeking to replace him, (my addition – seeking to invoke section 33(1) of the Montserrat Constitution, which David Brandt in commenting on the ‘fracas’ noted. “The Governor shall appoint as the Premier the elected member of the Legislative Assembly who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Governor that he or she commands the confidence of a majority of the elected members of the Assembly”

In addition, some persons who actually made comments mostly said also, that the minister did not and has never supported Premier Romeo, revealing that the firing had to be in the making for a long time. There have been people who said that from the time Hogan began campaigning before the election he had indicated he expects and will be the “next” Premier. I will say he told me that was never his intention and he would not do such. Hogan even denied earlier reports that he had been master-minding the move.

We gleaned from closed reports, is that the plan to replace the Premier broke down when two persons vied to be the Premier. One of these had been one of three who stood for leadership going into the election as Hogan had not been yet a part of the PDM candidate slate.

Hon. Willock on the other hand who also appeared on radio the same day, spoke about his expectations and their lack of responsibility as a group. “…my political opinion is that we have not been as effective as we could have been and it’s clear that the people on the ground has felt the frustration…So that’s what’s in front of us and we can’t hide it, we can’t run away from it. Unless we don’t care about the people and we just gonna  continue and ignore their concerns,” he said.

Only once there was a hint in the extract that was given of what he said as mentions ‘change’. “We are PDM team, we’re not telling you about going back to the polls and all this conversation that you’re having. We’re saying let us be honest. Are we being as effective as we could be with the talent pool that we have in this team and are we structured properly to deliver. Where are we going?…we are making this adjustment because we feel it is necessary to have a change of approach towards how we are delivering for you the people.”

It was after these activities, of which there were more, that Premier Romeo claimed he had to act. He informed that he had while advising his other government members of his decision to revoke Hogan’s ministerial appointment, he advised that he was willing to ask the Governor to dissolve parliament which would force a General election.

And the immediate reaction on the street to the possibility of a general election, were soundings of the people’s readiness, much more candidates for an election and the choice of political leadership for the future of Montserrat.

 

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

https://indd.adobe.com/view/fefbe432-457e-4ac8-8976-c4a380014263

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By Bennette Roach

Initially creating the potential for the dissolution of parliament and new General Elections

A storm more critical to the overall future of Montserrat ensued while this newspaper was about to feature the previous week’s disastrous visit of hurricane Irma that left deaths and near total destruction to some of our close neighbours and sister Overseas territories.

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This presentation is different as we have not been able to publish (in print or online) as a result of Hurricane Maria’s visit and passage, that finished off some from Irma’s visit and adding to the disaster to the northern Caribbean.

Some PDM team at the start of their governing stint – l-r: Hons. Ryan, Hogan, Lewis (ministers) Willock (standing Duberry un-elected) and Premier Romeo. On the Warren Cassell ZJB radio show

Romeo (with three Ministers) was sworn into office in September 2014, after leading the People’s Democratic Movement of Montserrat (PDM) to victory defeating the incumbent Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) – 7-2 headed by Premier Reuben T. Meade. (None of the independents were considered. The result was mainly due to the top class winning campaign strategy conducted by Dr. Newton Isaac, which afterwards had been surprisingly discounted by some of the beneficiaries.)

I was seeking clarification from Premier Romeo about what the now relieved Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Claude Hogan had said on Thursday, Sept. 14 as reported by ZJB Radio regarding, “where there is smoke there is fire”; following reports that were rampant especially after the Minister had also denied there were plans afoot to replace Romeo as the party observed its third anniversary in office from Sept 12, 2014.

Hon. Claude Hogan speaking at Gap Analysis workshop

Premier Romeo briefly explained how he was accosted by members at what was supposed to be a ‘house party’ then showed me his statement prepared for the media as he waited for the Instrument of Revocation of Minister Hogan’s appointment to the said Ministry to be delivered to the Minister.

He announced he had just held a meeting with his Ministers and other members of his government, where he advised that he was revoking Minister Hogan’s appointment, and that he had asked one of the two Parliamentary Secretaries backbenchers to accept the vacant ministry. That was Hon. David Osborne who was eventually sworn in as a Minister, replacing Hogan on September 21, one week later as the Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment in accordance with 33(2) of the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010.

Delmaude Ryan

Paul Lewis – CSA president at CPSA 2012 Convention in Montserrat

There had been several stories (rumours some turned out to be) of what transpired leading up to the firing of Hogan. This being correct, that a contingent of persons comprising On. Hogan, Hon. Minister Paul Lewis; Hons. David Osborne and Gregory Willock, to H E Governor Elizabeth Carriere where they informed her that they have among other things lost confidence in Premier Romeo and wish to replace his leadership. What was not correct is that Hon. Ingrid Buffong, independent, had failed to show to join these four, moments before she was on her way to exit Montserrat to pursue her Chevening scholarship. Nearer the truth is that she had actually turned them down and promised to the Premier, her belief in his efforts, but informing party leaders of the threat. Also dubious, with conflicting information, that Hon. Delmaude Ryan was named as supporting the four while with the Governor.

Earlier this had prompted a reminder of the post-election 2006 debacle when talks between Chief Minister elect by the NPLM group and the MCAP four elected members broke down. Following that one member of that party had then sought to put together a team of at least five persons to approach the Governor, Deborah Barnes Jones. That MCAP member, not the then leader Roselyn Cassell-Sealy, had approached former CM David Brandt who was then just reelected after he had not contested the 2001 elections to complement this new group. Reportedly Brandt gave his positive response but was at the moment preparing to join Lewis and the three NPLM members to form the new Government.

The four-member grouping on this occasion, according to one credible report had actually been waiting in expectation for the Premier to join them as he was to admit to the Governor his agreement to step aside, allowing someone else to take on the helm.

Investigations have shown that at least two of these persons, the numbers and individuals changing at times, do not attend some of the Party’s caucus meetings under new chairmanship since Hon. Shirley Osborne quit that position when she became the new Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Further information, but uncorroborated, was that Hon. Dr. Sammy Joseph was later approached to make up the team, but declined as one had heard former MCAP leader R T Meade had said repeatedly his party would not be involved in any such ‘shenanigans’ and that the PDM party should get their act together (the real difficulty PDM faced from early) and try and get the island on a better footing. But who knows, circumstances change and opportunities when available, may see strange reverses.

ZJB carried the following conversation with Claude Hogan and also Gregory Willock. Hogan said: “I am not confirming anything like vote of no confidence or soon because that comes as a matter of Parliament. We have not gone there yet,” he said, even as he told radio listeners “where there is smoke there must be fire’.

He refers to the ‘caucus’ – “This is one of the problems I have in respect of some of my caucus members. It’s just like you cannot express yourself about reformation or changes that you think on this third anniversary would make us more resilient,” but continued, “Of course, you have to have these discussions. I don’t want the people to see it like we are trying to overthrow or remove anybody. We are having discussions about what we need to do different and we can’t fire the Premier. The Premier can fire each and every one of us, I want to make that very clear.”

“But we have to force him to come to the table with us to decide what does he think, what would he agree with in the context of our discussions that are the new things we need to do,” Hogan said.

The question who everyone asks, all of whom believe he should have been dismissed long ago, “How can he say that (above) and end up going to the Governor seeking to replace him, (my addition – seeking to invoke section 33(1) of the Montserrat Constitution, which David Brandt in commenting on the ‘fracas’ noted. “The Governor shall appoint as the Premier the elected member of the Legislative Assembly who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Governor that he or she commands the confidence of a majority of the elected members of the Assembly”

In addition, some persons who actually made comments mostly said also, that the minister did not and has never supported Premier Romeo, revealing that the firing had to be in the making for a long time. There have been people who said that from the time Hogan began campaigning before the election he had indicated he expects and will be the “next” Premier. I will say he told me that was never his intention and he would not do such. Hogan even denied earlier reports that he had been master-minding the move.

We gleaned from closed reports, is that the plan to replace the Premier broke down when two persons vied to be the Premier. One of these had been one of three who stood for leadership going into the election as Hogan had not been yet a part of the PDM candidate slate.

Hon. Willock on the other hand who also appeared on radio the same day, spoke about his expectations and their lack of responsibility as a group. “…my political opinion is that we have not been as effective as we could have been and it’s clear that the people on the ground has felt the frustration…So that’s what’s in front of us and we can’t hide it, we can’t run away from it. Unless we don’t care about the people and we just gonna  continue and ignore their concerns,” he said.

Only once there was a hint in the extract that was given of what he said as mentions ‘change’. “We are PDM team, we’re not telling you about going back to the polls and all this conversation that you’re having. We’re saying let us be honest. Are we being as effective as we could be with the talent pool that we have in this team and are we structured properly to deliver. Where are we going?…we are making this adjustment because we feel it is necessary to have a change of approach towards how we are delivering for you the people.”

It was after these activities, of which there were more, that Premier Romeo claimed he had to act. He informed that he had while advising his other government members of his decision to revoke Hogan’s ministerial appointment, he advised that he was willing to ask the Governor to dissolve parliament which would force a General election.

And the immediate reaction on the street to the possibility of a general election, were soundings of the people’s readiness, much more candidates for an election and the choice of political leadership for the future of Montserrat.