The United Workers Party leader makes sense (commentary)

The United Workers Party leader makes sense (commentary)
Melanius Alphonse
Melanius Alphonse
Melanius Alphonse

PRESS RELEASE – The United Workers Party (UWP) leader makes sense” is a headline I never thought I’d be able to write in the foreseeable future.

However, the UWP in question is the United Workers Party in Dominica, not Saint Lucia – the customary focus of many of my commentaries.

And, compared to his UWP counterpart Allen Chastanet in Saint Lucia, Lennox Linton, the UWP leader in Dominica, makes a lot of sense.

Following the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) heads of government meeting in Roseau last week, Linton called on Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to clear the way for a single Caribbean candidate for the post of Commonwealth secretary general in the person of Antigua and Barbuda’s nominee Sir Ronald Sanders, who has already secured the support of a majority of member countries in the region.

Linton also called on Skerrit to disclose whether or not Dominica has been compromised by outside influence to nominate the British Baroness Patricia Scotland, an active member of the British Parliament, whose dominant and effective nationality is patently and obviously British.

The unfortunate situation is that Dominica looks like only a pawn in a big game and that there must be some as yet undisclosed financial or other inducement for Skerrit and/or his government, leading to the unanswered question as to whether Caribbean governments or Caribbean institutions are being used for someone else’s purpose.

The answer to that may never be known, even after the selection of a new secretary general, which will take place on Friday following the opening of the November 27-29 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta.

In the meantime, OECS chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada, and his colleague, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris have urged Caribbean leaders to settle on a single candidate to increase the region’s chance of winning and to reinforce the OECS sub-region as a single space within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Indeed, the region must wake up to shape its own regional and international interest; break the cycle of individualism, and abandon pettiness that stifles regional integration, in order to shape agendas with the use of combined political and socio-economic engagement.

The candidacy of Sir Ronald Sanders provides that opportunity and to project the opinions, values and collective strength of the region.

But, after ostensibly consulting with his Cabinet, Skerrit has confirmed that Dominica still stands fully behind the former UK attorney general and sitting member of the British parliament, Baroness Scotland.

Unfortunately, that pretence is probably nothing than a smoke screen to consult with his boss, President Nicholas Maduro of Venezuela. 

So their reaction is to be defiant to the positions of CARICOM and the OECS and not be influenced by their interests. A destructive autocracy far better at accumulating power than executing reform and improving credibility. 

Skerrit’s choice for the Commonwealth secretary general signals poor decision making in the advancement of social and economic development for the region.
It is truly refreshing on this occasion to see that opposition leader Lennox Linton recognizes that the best option for advancing the region’s policy interest is Sir Ronald Sanders.

In various articles, the wisdom expressed is that Baroness Scotland’s dominant nationality is British, serving as an active member of the British Parliament. 

For this and many other reasons, her nomination as a “Dominican” is contrary to the legally established principle of dominant and effective nationality under international law. 

Furthermore, Dominica’s Prime Minister Skerrit was not above using the national tragedy wrought by Tropical Storm Erika at the end of August to advance an unrelated agenda in relation to his nominee for the post of Commonwealth secretary general, itself an opportunistic move attempting to piggyback on Scotland’s convenient Dominica birthplace. 

The onus is on OECS and other Commonwealth Caribbean leaders to stand with Sir Ronald Sanders, who is capable of utilizing the tools and resources to champion the strategic interest of the Caribbean region as a single bloc on the world stage.

According to Linton, “The people must demand that he (Skerrit) falls in line without further delay,” and with this I agree. In this instance, it is commendable. 

However, similar language by his UWP counterparts in Saint Lucia instructing its members to fall in line is silly. The ethical persuasion where this exhortation is warranted is where leadership and statesmanship correspond. 

In this case, there is reason why Sir Ronald Sanders commands credibility, trust and respect for the post of Commonwealth secretary general.

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]


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