Address to the nation by The Honourable Stephenson King on the state of affairs in the government 20th May 2008
ADDRESS TO THE NATION
THE HONOURABLE STEPHENSON KING
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE GOVERNMENT
20th May 2008
My Fellow Saint Lucians,
I address you in the knowledge that you the citizens of this country anxiously await me to speak to you on the current political situation that exists in the nation today.
My utmost desire and fervent resolve is to see the promise of St. Lucia’s greatest asset; her people, made manifest and fulfilled in our time as a great nation. Even now as I speak, preparations are being made to receive delegations of the member OECS territories. To that end, this is not the time for our efforts to be undermined by misguided rhetoric and self-fulfilling ambitions, that aim only to attempt to weaken and destabilize the very core of our democracy. Rather, at this moment, as your Prime Minister, I am calling for every citizen, public servant and trusted member to lay aside the temporal, self-serving mindset that seeks to threaten the very ideals that make this nation great.
When I delivered the Budget Address on the 21st of April, it was with a sense of hope for the future that I described the exciting prospects for the development of this country.
Since that time however, while focus should have been placed on the implementation of the development programs laid out in the Budget, it is no secret that some members of my Administration have concentrated their efforts on other activities that have sought to undermine, not just the prerogative of my government, but have sought to undermine the greater will and destiny of our nation.
My Fellow St. Lucians, when I took the oath of office of Prime Minister in my own right with the full support of my cabinet, I took that oath seriously and I pledged then, as I pledge today, to place the interests of the country ahead of the interests of self, of Party, or of any group of individuals.
The roots of the current situation that confront the country lie in the period leading up to, and following the death of our late beloved leader.
During these last few weeks, there have been suggestions about the integrity of the reallocation process of Cabinet portfolios that took place last year.
I wish to state categorically that the late prime minister initiated and authorized by his own signature, affixed in the presence of witnesses, the correspondence sent to Her Excellency, the Governor General to give effect to the re-shuffle of the Cabinet.
The nation will recall that after the Cabinet re-shuffle, Sir John, in a television interview, made it clear that he was the one who had made the decision to re-shuffle the Cabinet and to relieve the then Minister of External Affairs of his position.
Since that time, Mr. Rufus Bousquet has repeatedly claimed that he does not know why he was fired and he has used this manipulated claim of unfair removal from the Cabinet, to justify his current demands for re-instatement to ministerial rank.
At this juncture, it is necessary for me to shed light on the circumstances that led to Mr. Bousquet's removal from the Cabinet by Sir John.
At approximately 7:30 am April 30, 2007 – that is – the same day that the Joint Communiqué was signed establishing diplomatic relations between St. Lucia and Taiwan, Sir John met with Mr. Rufus Bousquet at the Prime Minister's Official Residence at Vigie and advised him that, although a decision had been taken to re-establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan, he, Sir John, the Prime Minister wished to re-visit that decision.
Sir John instructed Mr. Bousquet, the then Minister of External Affairs, not to proceed with the establishment of diplomatic relations with Taiwan until after a special meeting of the Cabinet that had been convened for the afternoon of that same day.
Despite this directive from the prime minister, Mr. Bousquet proceeded, later that morning, to sign the Joint Communiqué that established diplomatic relations with Taiwan, in the presence of some of his ministerial colleagues, several of whom were unaware, and who had not been notified by Mr. Bousquet that Sir John had instructed that this ceremony should be delayed until after the scheduled Cabinet Meeting.
This behaviour on the part of Mr. Bousquet, the deliberate disobedience of the instruction of the prime minister, is what led Sir John to relieve him of his ministerial portfolio.
My Fellow St. Lucians, I have provided these details because, to a large extent, it is the unjustifiable call of Mr. Bousquet to be re-appointed to the Cabinet that has led to the current situation that confronts the country.
As I see it, it is of greater importance for my Administration, at this time to be rightly focused on the matters of governing for all St. Lucians and not the disgruntled bantering and desires of the few.
In addition, I have also had to deal with the issues surrounding Mr. Richard Frederick who, last year, was arrested in relation to an investigation being conducted by the Customs and Excise Department.
This arrest, and the detention of certain of his vehicles has been a source of serious grievance to Mr. Frederick.
Every possible effort has been made to support Mr. Frederick as he faces this criminal investigation that was initiated by the Labour Party Administration.
The options available are limited, and any direct intervention in this legal process could be construed to be an obstruction of justice.
As a leader who seeks to do what is right in service to my country and its people, AND as a man who seeks to find the good in all men, I have done everything possible through consultation and conciliation to find solutions that would be satisfactory, while not compromising the integrity of the Office of Prime Minister.
In taking time to consider all views and to exhaust all avenues to arrive at solutions to these issues, I have gone above and beyond what would have been expected of any Prime Minister. I have not done so out of weakness but out of an acute sense of a need to heal the Administration through a process of dialogue and close consultation in the aftermath of the trauma associated with the death of our iconic leader.
As I stated before, when I took the oath of Office of Prime Minister, I took that oath seriously and will do everything that I must to uphold the integrity of the Office of the Prime Minister. I am therefore not prepared to put the interests of my Party, or of a group of individuals, before the interests of the country.
Sometimes, politicians forget that they are elected not to serve their own interests, or to pursue their personal ambitions for power, but to serve the people and to bring improvements to the lives of every citizen. I expect every member of my Cabinet to continue to place the interests of the people first.
My Fellow Saint Lucians, I ask for your support in the coming months that will be challenging, but can bring great rewards as we pursue the exciting development prospects that lie ahead.
I am aware that certain individuals will do their utmost to prevent this Administration from achieving its goals, but I know that you – the people – will deal with those who seek to undermine the progress of our beloved Saint Lucia.
I will personally continue to place the interests of the country above all else. But, I call for your fortitude, understanding and support in these temporal circumstances and pledge that my Administration remains wholeheartedly committed to deliver the necessary programmes and initiatives that will carry our country to its destined place of greatness and prosperity.
My Fellow St. Lucians please know that my thoughtful and deliberate approach to these decisions are demonstrations of a Prime Minister who is democratic, who allows for full consultation, but who is resolute and who, above all else, places the interests of country first.
It is with this interest of country at heart that I appeal to my Parliamentary colleagues to remember the oaths which we all took and our call to service. I implore you all to put our own personal interests aside, let us come together to resolve and work towards the development of our people and country.
It is my fervent hope that at tomorrow’s meeting of elected parliamentarians we will be able to come to an amicable solution to the issues which currently confront us.
It is also my intention to address you further as we resolve this current impasse.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all Saint Lucians for your support, understanding and prayers. I ask God to bless us all and to bless our beautiful country, Saint Lucia.
May God bless our nation.
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