STATEMENT: Is the Minister of External Affairs taking care of his family affairs?

STATEMENT: Is the Minister of External Affairs taking care of his family affairs?

The article below is a statement submitted to the media, including St. Lucia News Online (SNO), by the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) political party in St. Lucia. The statement was not written by SNO and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of SNO staff and management or its parent companies.

The United Workers Party is seeking clarification from Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, the Government of Saint Lucia, and Minister of External Affairs concerning current legal proceedings in the High Court of Saint Lucia involving the Minister of External Affairs on the matter of payments of child support and maintenance. Our understanding is that this is a matter which has been in existence for some six (6) years and remains unresolved.

The UWP is disturbed that given the troubling problems of child-neglect and abuse involving delinquent Saint Lucian men, that we would have a situation of possible child-neglect involving a senior Government Minister. Only last week the Government of Saint Lucia and the nation observed International Mens’ Day under the theme: “Positive Men Role Models”.

November 19th and 20th were also commemorated as “International Day Against Child Abuse” and “Universal Children’s Day respectively”. These observations are aimed at highlighting the injustices which children and women undergo as well as showcasing the role of positive interventions by men in nurturing healthy family experiences and positive young persons.

The situation involving the island’s External Affairs Minister should be cause of major concern for all Saint Lucians as it has implications for the image of our nation at the regional and international levels. It must be understood that the Minister of External Affairs by virtue of his office is by all intents and purposes “the face” of our nation. The holder of this office must be a person of integrity as he or she has the role of representing Saint Lucia within external environments and fora and is expected to symbolize the standards and values of our nation.

Given the fact that this matter of child maintenance and support has remained unresolved over the past six (6) years, we have no doubt that Dr. Anthony and the leadership of the St Lucia Labour Party would have been aware of the misdeeds of the Minister ahead of the November 2011 General Elections. It stands to reason therefore that both Dr Anthony and the Executive of the St Lucia Labour Party were accomplices in presenting Mr. Baptiste to the Electorate of Saint Lucia. This sordid scenario demonstrates the sad fact that Dr Anthony and the Saint Lucia Labour Party had not absorbed any lessons from the Walter Francios debacle. It is left to be seen whether the same option of resignation will be offered to Mr. Baptiste.

Further, notwithstanding the obvious mal-judgement on the part of their male counterparts we call on the female Ministers within the Dr Kenny Anthony’s Cabinet to demonstrate moral fortitude by openly condemning the apparent irresponsibility of their colleague Minister.  We further appeal to Civil Society organisations such as CAFRA, RISE St Lucia and the National Youth Council to call on the Minister to explain the quagmire which he now finds himself in.

The Minister has exacerbated the current debacle by seeking through his lawyer Peter Foster, who is also the Lawyer for the Prime Minister and Speaker of the House of Parliament to attempt to intimidate the media and the opposition. Instead Mr. Alva Baptiste would do better to come clean with the people of Saint Lucia. The following questions require the attention of the Minister at this time:

1.    Was he not required to pay an amount exceeding EC $1500.00 on account of his failure to meet a previous court order?
2.    Has he been meeting his obligations of the monthly payment of EC $1200.00?
3.    Has he been attending court hearings in response to summons sent to him?
4.    Was there a request from his Lawyer for mediation to work out a form of payment and the clearance of arrears?
5.    Did he appear in court last week only because he was made aware that a warrant was issued for his arrest?
6.    Why was it necessary in the first place for the matter of the maintenance of his child to be enforced through the courts?

Saint Lucians would recall the persistent calls made by the then opposition and its candidates during the run up to the last General Elections for resignations and apologies by Government Ministers on the basis of morality. During that time the then opposition SLP consistently made the point of referring to Government Ministers as having to uphold morality. The Minister of External Affairs who is a senior Government Minister cannot be conveniently absolved of such responsibilities.

Any suggestion that the court matter registered as Claim No: SLUHMT2010/0090 is a “private matter” must be dismissed as purely hypocritical and convenient. Mr. Baptiste is a public figure who as External Affairs Minister carries the burden of representing Saint Lucia at the highest level and participates in formulating policy and legislation. As such a law maker cannot be seen to be a law breaker.

Finally the current revelations surrounding the Minister of External Affairs cannot be underestimated because of the serious implications for the image of our nation.

The situation therefore begs the question, how can the Minister take care of the nation’s foreign affairs when he appears based on the existing evidence to be falling short in taking care of  the most basic of family affairs-the maintenance of his child!.


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