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Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) Allen Chastanet has chastised the Kenny Anthony Administration over the appointment of Saudi billionaire Dr. Walid Juffali as the country’s diplomatic representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Chastanet told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview today (Nov. 13) that he is extremely concerned about the revelations made by the article in the Telegraph newspaper in the UK and said he finds that the government’s response to the issue leaves more questions than answers.
The political leader said that his party is concerned that this recent issue could undermine the credibility of the recently launched Citizenship By Investment Programme, which is due to take effect in 2016, and he strongly believes that it could jeopardize the reputation of Saint Lucia internationally.
Chastanet said it has been a long-standing policy that the High Commissioner is the one who represents Saint Lucia at the IMO meetings and conferences. He is therefore questioning the government’s move to appoint the Saudi philanthropist and businessman to this post.
“Why was this change made and one would of thought if in fact you are going to change that policy it would have been for a person with tremendous amount of experience in maritime affairs to the benefit of Saint Lucia. But here we are seeing that Mr. Juffali has no experience in maritime affairs,” he explained.
Chastanet said he finds it odd that Juffali’s appointment came after the court case began in the UK, where his former wife decided to launch civil proceedings against him.
“Didn’t government due diligence pick that up and recognise that there would a potential conflict and this would have been putting us in an embarrassing situation with the British government and the British courts?” he questioned.
The lawyers for the former wife of Juffali have requested the Government of Saint Lucia to lift the diplomatic immunity of Juffali to compel him to testify in the civil suit. But the government has expressed the view that it does not desire to get involved.
Meanwhile, Chastanet told SNO that he was reliably informed that there were 27 meetings and conferences since Juffali has been appointed as the ambassador, but said Saint Lucia was not represented at any of these meetings.
“So it gives further evidence that there is something odd, awkward and immoral in the appointment of Juffali as ambassador,” the former UWP government minister noted.
Asked what he thinks about the public being made aware of Juffali’s appointment to the IMO through the article in the Telegraph newspaper, Chastanet said unfortunately it is not the first time that Saint Lucians have been left in the dark.
“We learnt about ALBA through the media. We learnt about Saint Lucia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games through the media. We learnt about Grynberg, Rocohmel and NCA after the fact,” he added.
Chastanet said everyone now has to start questioning the ability of Dr. Kenny Anthony to remain as prime minister of Saint Lucia and whether he has the peoples interest at heart.
“He has been an abomination and a complete failure. He has accumulated over $2 billion of debt to the country and we have little to show for it. And he has been playing with the reputation of Saint Lucia on a continual basis.”