IMPACS Still on US- EU front burner!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

On June 17, 1997 this was how gover­norgen­eral Sir Wil­liam Ge­orge Mal­let for­mally opened the first ses­sion of the sev­enth par­lia­ment of Saint Lu­cia: “On May 23, 1997 an un­prece­dented wind of change swept Saint Lu­cia, cre­at­ing po­lit­i­cal history as the peo­ple voted de­ci­sively for a new gov­ern­ment rep­re­sent­ing a new vi­sion for the new mil­len­nium. This over­whelm­ing ver­dict rep­re­sented an af­fir­ma­tion of a more in­clu­sive, more peo­ple-cen­tered and more tech­no­crat­i­cally com­pe­tent gover­nance.”

The cam­paign that had de­liv­ered 16 of 17 con­stituen­cies into the un­tried hands of Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony was, ac­cord­ing to Sir Ge­orge, “the most in­tensely con­tested elec­toral strug­gle ever waged in Saint Lu­cia since adult suf­frage”—to say the least, some­thing of a stretch. But the gov­er­nor-gen­eral was not to blame for the cal­cu­lated hy­per­bole. The words he par­roted had come out of the minds of in­di­vid­u­als who in due course would be lauded by Kenny An­thony as “the na­tion’s best brains.” As hec­tic as had been the 1997 elec­toral cam­paign, the truth is it never came close to the un­for­get­table de­ba­cle that had laid waste Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard on the evening of July 3, 1979. That year’s cam­paign had claimed at least two lives; sev­eral par­tic­i­pants in a UWP rally—one of them an MP, blood gush­ing from his stoned head—were hos­pi­tal­ized; there was ram­pant loot­ing. John Comp­ton barely es­caped a group of young men armed with rocks and only evil on their minds. It took al­most two weeks be­fore the stench of hu­man fe­ces was fi­nally re­moved from the boule­vard at­mos­phere. Es­ti­mated dam­age to the city’s cen­ter of com­merce was over two mil­lion dol­lars!

In the course of his Throne Speech de­liv­ered on the morn­ing of June 17, 1997 the gov­er­nor-gen­eral re­as­sured Saint Lu­cians that with the elec­tions now be­hind them the new gov­ern­ment would ex­er­cise its du­ties “without fear or fa­vor and with com­pas­sion for all.” The time had come to move away from “the frac­tured par­ti­san­ship” of the last few months. We were one na­tion, one peo­ple and our sur­vival de­pended on our ac­cep­tance of this sim­ple truth: “It is nec­es­sary now to look be­yond the things that di­vide us to the ne­ces­si­ties that bind us; to look be­yond the dif­fer­ences that sep­a­rate us to the ties that unite us.”

The packed House had not an­tic­i­pated what fol­lowed. His eyes fo­cused on the script handed him as he en­tered the cham­ber, the gov­er­nor-gen­eral read: “Cor­rup­tion has been iden­ti­fied as the num­berone is­sue in the minds of Saint Lu­cians. The ex­tent of pub­lic sen­ti­ment has found ex­pres­sion in the pop­u­lar cul­ture, in ca­lyp­sos such as Jaunty’s ‘Bobol List,’ which ex­pressed in no un­cer­tain terms the re­vul­sion that the or­di­nary Saint Lu­cian felt at the abuse of pub­lic of­fice for pri­vate gain. The com­mis­sion of in­quiry es­tab­lished by the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­ves­ti­gate the so-called UN Scan­dal ex­posed to pub­lic view the sor­did di­men­sion of this phe­nom­e­non. Al­though the work of the com­mis­sion was never fol­lowed to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion it showed Saint Lu­cians how the levers of power could be ma­nip­u­lated, and punc­tu­ated the need for tighter ac­count­abil­ity.”

More hy­per­bole; more con­tra­dic­tions. How could an in­quiry aban­doned long be­fore vi­tal ques­tions had been asked the main wit­ness, let alone an­swered, have de­liv­ered any use­ful con­clu­sions? The gov­er­nor-gen­eral an­nounced that the new gov­ern­ment would, in con­form­ity with its cam­paign prom­ises, es­tab­lish a com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate all cases of al­leged cor­rup­tion and to es­tab­lish which cases war­ranted fur­ther le­gal ac­tion and pros­e­cu­tion. “We are res­o­lute to pur­sue this course of ac­tion be­cause the peo­ple have cried for jus­tice. And once a blind eye is turned to cor­rup­tion the in­sti­tu­tional en­vi­ron­ment is cre­ated for its unchecked pro­lif­er­a­tion.”

Bear in mind, dear reader, the fol­low­ing: The 1997 Throne Speech was de­liv­ered by the gov­er­nor-gen­eral Sir Ge­orge Mal­let. Un­til a year or so ear­lier he had been deputy prime min­is­ter in the United Work­ers Party gov­ern­ment of John Comp­ton. And now it had fallen to him to an­nounce pub­licly that he and his for­mer gov­ern­ment col­leagues—in­clud­ing their prime min­is­ter—would be sub­jected to a com­mis­sion of in­quiry based on the new gov­ern­ment’s sus­pi­cion that for close to 40 years they had op­er­ated a cor­rupt ad­min­is­tra­tion. While the pok­er­faced Ge­orge Mal­let per­formed as duty de­manded, surely his stom­ach must’ve been cook­ing in bile.

“We need to rec­og­nize, how­ever, that a com­mis­sion of in­quiry is not enough; the pas­sage of new laws is not enough. It is not enough sim­ply to ex­am­ine and seek to pun­ish those guilty of past mis­deeds. We must de­velop a cul­ture of ou­trage against cor­rup­tion. We must cul­ti­vate an in­tol­er­ance for ve­nal­ity and to pre­vent any pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture re­cur­rence.”

The promised in­quiry got un­der­way in Septem­ber 1997, with Sir John fi­nally fac­ing just one charge: “That you, know­ing Ni­cholas Glace had been dis­missed from the Pub­lic Ser­vice of Saint Lu­cia, ought not to have rec­om­mended Ni­cholas Glace to the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Plan­ning as Project Su­per­vi­sor to the Shanty Town Road Project hav­ing re­gard to Staff Or­der 2.3 of the Pub­lic Ser­vice of Saint Lu­cia.”

Com­mis­sioner Sir Louis Blom-Cooper’s writ­ten judg­ment was short: “Not up­held.”

Al­le­ga­tions against Vaughan Lewis, who in 1995 had con­tro­ver­sially re­placed Comp­ton as prime min­is­ter, were “with­drawn.” Dur­ing his tes­ti­mony be­fore the one-man in­quiry, Sir John claimed the Kenny An­thony ad­min­is­tra­tion had sim­ply em­barked on “a po­lit­i­cal witch hunt and a per­sonal ven­detta against me.” His head held high, he said: “As a tax­payer of this coun­try I fail to un­der­stand why mil­lions of dol­lars of the taxes of the peo­ple of this coun­try should be em­ployed in a com­mis­sion of in­quiry to de­ter­mine whether it was con­trary to staff or­ders to rec­om­mend the em­ploy­ment on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, at a salary of EC$3,000 a month—a max­i­mum ex­pen­di­ture of EC$9,000—of a Saint Lu­cian from the Vieux Fort area to su­per­vise the con­struc­tion of a road in the Vieux Fort area which was part of a project ap­proved by the par­lia­ment of Saint Lu­cia. I con­sider this an abuse of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry Or­di­nance and a wan­ton and in­de­fen­si­ble waste of the money of the tax­pay­ers of Saint Lu­cia!”

One year fol­low­ing the Blom-Cooper in­quiry, the new gov­er­nor-gen­eral Dame Pear­lette Louisy un­der­scored in her Throne Speech the Kenny An­thony gov­ern­ment’s “clear com­mit­ment to hu­man rights.” The gov­ern­ment in­tended “to give greater recog­ni­tion to the Char­ter of Civil So­ci­ety for the Caribbean Com­mu­nity,” she said. The gov­ern­ment was also “anx­ious to en­dorse the en­shrined prin­ci­ples of good gover­nance and re­spect for the fun­da­men­tal rights of all cit­i­zens.” The gov­ern­ment would ac­ti­vate a na­tional com­mit­tee for mon­i­tor­ing and en­sur­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­vi­sions of the char­ter that sought “prin­ci­pally to es­tab­lish a bind­ing covenant by gov­ern­ment to the pro­mo­tion of hu­man rights con­sis­tent with the UN Char­ter on Hu­man Rights and to ex­tend the safe­guards of our con­sti­tu­tions in the pro­tec­tion of th­ese fun­da­men­tal rights and free­doms. Com­mit­ment to the pro­vi­sions of the char­ter will be a reaf­fir­ma­tion of con­fi­dence in the process of ac­count­abil­ity, moral­ity in pub­lic af­fairs, the safe­guard­ing of democ­racy, and se­cur­ing the hu­man rights of the in­di­vid­ual as the ba­sis for any mod­ern so­ci­ety.”

Dame Pear­lette’s Throne Speech ended on a prom­is­sory note: “In this coun­try each and ev­ery one of us is im­por­tant. Each of us has a unique con­tri­bu­tion to make to the rest of us. The ho­tel work­ers, the taxi driver, the ba­nana farmer are not foot sol­diers; they are van­guard fight­ers in this col­lec­tive bat­tle for equal­ity, for ex­cel­lence, for sur­vival. Our com­mu­ni­ties are di­min­ished by the loss of one. Our stan­dards and our rep­u­ta­tion are low­ered by the medi­ocrity of any. When­ever hope fal­ters, pos­si­bil­ity is weak­ened. When­ever re­solve fades, ca­pac­ity is di­min­ished. When­ever vi­sion weak­ens, di­rec­tion is lost and the na­tion be­gins to per­ish . . .”

Fol­low­ing is how Kenny An­thony on the Sun­day evening of 8 March, 2015 opened a much an­tic­i­pated tele­vised speech: “In all the years I have had the honor to serve you as prime min­is­ter the is­sues on which I am about to ad­dress you have been among the most chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult, for three rea­sons: they call for ex­tremely tough, coura­geous but nec­es­sary de­ci­sions; the mat­ters in ques­tion have tar­nished the rep­u­ta­tion of our coun­try and brought con­sid­er­able dis­honor to our po­lice force, at home and abroad; the is­sues touch a raw nerve, our bat­tle against crime, vi­o­lence and law­less­ness in our midst.”

The prime min­is­ter re­traced the steps that had taken him to the “most chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult” is­sue of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. He re­called that be­tween 2008 and 2010 the coun­try had ex­pe­ri­enced “an un­prece­dented wave of homi­cides and vi­o­lent crimes” and on 30 May, 2010 then prime min­is­ter Stephenson King had launched Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence—“os­ten­si­bly to re­store con­fi­dence in the po­lice force and to pro­vide a safer en­vi­ron­ment for the cit­i­zens of Saint Lu­cia.” Kenny An­thony em­pha­sized that King had threat­ened the is­land’s crim­i­nals that “there will be no refuge, no stone left un­turned and no hid­ing place for any­one.”

King had also an­nounced the for­ma­tion of a Spe­cial Task Force, the prime min­is­ter re­called. Also a change in the com­mand struc­ture of the po­lice force that “quickly be­came op­er­a­tional un­der the di­rect com­mand of the deputy po­lice com­mis­sioner Mr. Moses Charles.” Min­is­te­rial re­spon­si­bil­ity for the po­lice was as­signed to home af­fairs min­is­ter Guy May­ers “who briefed the pub­lic on the changes ef­fected by his

Dur­ing his cam­paign for of­fice last year Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chastanet (left) promised the elec­torate he would do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to bring the IMPACS Re­port to a sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion. Kenny An­thony (right) claimed in 2013 that he had seen a hit list of tar­geted in­di­vid­u­als while cam­paign­ing in 2011.

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Daarsrean Greene: By offic re­ceiv­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion from the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, w ques­tion re­mains: Is he bet­ter placed to do what his pre­de­ces

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