Sunday, May 11, 2014

St Lucia ministers called on to resign

By Caribbean News Now contributor CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Women in Action (WIA), the
women's arm of the opposition United Workers'
Party (UWP) in Saint Lucia, on Tuesday called for the
immediate resignation of Alvina Reynolds, minister
of health, wellness, human services and gender
relations, and Senator Victor La Corbiniere, minister of legal affairs, home affairs and internal security. According to the WIA, under Reynolds' watch there
have been serious breaches and gaps in the public
health systems and La Corbiniere continues to
ignore the serious crime situation in the country. However, UWP member of parliament and former
minister, Richard Frederick, took a different view,
saying that no minister should be made to resign
unless he or she has done something wrong that
can be substantiated with evidence. "Sometimes politicians see things as being
politically expedient for us to seek the resignation
of this minster and that minister. As to whether it is
in the interest of the country and the public is a
totally different scenario. In my humble view,
unless a minister has done something that can be substantiated with evidence, then I don't think that
a minister should be made to resign just on the
whims and fancies of an opposing party, and that
goes for everybody, not necessarily La Corbiniere,"
Frederick said. He referred to calls for his own resignation as a
minister and said, now that events are unfolding,
people realise that that there was no justification for
such a call. In March 2006, La Corbiniere unsuccessfully
contested the Castries Central seat as the St Lucia
Labour Party (SLP) candidate against Frederick. "He was one who took me to task, he was one who
said a lot of stuff about me but I do not see that he
should resign because of a request coming from
someone or a party that does not support him,"
Frederick said. Separately, former MP and agriculture minister in
the previous UWP government Ezechiel Joseph,
now party chairman, called somewhat
unrealistically for the resignation of the "entire
government". Melanius Alphonse, speaking on behalf of the
Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM) pointed out that
the parlous state of healthcare and crime in Saint
Lucia is one that predates both Reynolds and La
Corbiniere, although this does not exonerate either
of them for their "dismal performance and aimless management as seasoned professionals in the ir
respective fields". However, he added, the LPM concedes that the
management of both health care and crime has
become noticeably worse under the current SLP
government, while pointing out that the UWP under
its current leadership is at the same time trying to
distance itself as mere political expediency from all responsibility for the unfortunate position in which
the country finds itself today. "A lot of the blame for where Saint Lucia is today
rests on the shoulders of both parties, which have
allowed health care and crime to deteriorate to
levels that may be impossible to manage unless
there is a national consensus on how to effectively
root out crime and to secure Saint Lucia's porous borders, with all the tools available locally and
internationally," Alphonse said. He said the LPM believes the way forward for Saint
Lucia is through a national consultation on
healthcare and crime, which engages the entire
citizenry of the country in order to address
effectively those very serious concerns. In an earlier op-ed piece on April 3, 2014, (Health care in St Lucia), Alphonse focused on the demise of the Soufriere hospital, the challenge that already
exists to maintain other health facilities and now to
furnish the new hospital with modern equipment
and highly trained human resource in a competitive
marketplace. He also pointed to the sixteen policy positions and
six law enforcement and anti-crime measures
proposed by the LPM in an open letter to Dr Kenny Anthony, prime minister of Saint Lucia, on January 24, 2014. According to the WIA, a number of unexplained
deaths have occurred at public health facilities in
Saint Lucia and the results of investigations have yet
to materialize despite promises made by Reynolds. "Contagious diseases such as chikungunya are
rampant while the minister has failed to inform the
citizens of the extent of this epidemic, which is
widespread, nor has she bothered to embark on
any public education campaign," the WIA said,
apparently ignorant of the fact that chikungunya is not a contagious disease but a viral infection similar
to dengue fever spread by the Aedes aegypti
mosquito. "The forensic laboratory remains comatose without
proper technical staff and the minister is now
callously asking aggrieved citizens to seek recourse
through the civil courts in cases where citizens died
whilst in custody of the state. Minister La Corbinere
is oblivious to the many victims of rape and families of victims of murder, who crave emotional relief
and closure, by ensuring that all investigative
services, especially forensic, are functioning
properly and efficiently," the WIA continued. However, Alphonse responded that, unless there is
a willingness to accept the need for an over arching
national strategy in saving the country, calls for the
resignation of Reynolds and La Corbiniere are likely
be "absolutely meaningless."


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