Premier Donaldson Romeo (left and dismissed minister Claude Hogan (centre) in happier times. (CMC)
BRADES, Montserrat – Premier Donaldson Romeo has fired his agriculture and environment minister Claude Hogan, less than 48 hours after he took to the airwaves here saying there is need for a new paradigm in dealing with the socio-economic development of the volcano ravaged British Overseas Territory while downplaying persistent rumours of plans to Romeo as head of the government.
A brief statement on the webpage of the state-owned ZJB Radio said, “Hon. Minister of Agriculture Claude Hogan has been relieved of his duties. Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo has advised Her Excellency Governor Elizabeth Carriere to revoke Mr Hogan’s appointment with immediate effect”.
The statement gave no further details and Hogan has not made any public statement on his dismissal.
But at least one media outlet here reported that Hogan was dismissed following a meeting with select members of the ruling People’s Democratic Movement of Montserrat (PDM), where Hogan was accused of “mounting a leadership challenge” against Premier Romeo.
The publication said that another accusation levelled against the dismissed minister was that “he does not, and has never supported Premier Romeo”.
Romeo was sworn into office in September 2014, after leading the People’s Democratic Movement of Montserrat (PDM) to victory defeating the incumbent Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) by a 7-2 margin.
Earlier this week, Hogan, a former journalist and technocrat with the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, speaking on the state-owned radio station denied there were plans afoot to replace Romeo as the party observes its third anniversary in office.
“I am not confirming anything like vote of no confidence or soon because that comes as a matter of Parliament. We have not gone there yet,” he said, even as he told radio listeners “where there is smoke there must be fire”.
“This is one of the problems I have in respect of some of my caucus members. It’s just like you cannot express yourself about reformation or changes that you think on this third anniversary would make us more resilient.
“Of course you have to have these discussions. I don’t want the people to see it like we are trying to overthrow or remove anybody. We are having discussions about what we need to do different and we can’t fire the Premier. The Premier can fire each and every one of us, I want to make that very clear.
‘But we have to force him to come to the table with us to decide what does he think, what would he agree with in the context of our discussions that are the new things we need to do,’ Hogan said.
He told radio listeners that it is not right to think that every discussion “is a revolution” adding “it is something that could create a revolution, which is a vast change that could affect the lifestyles of all of the people of Montserrat.
“And to me in my life, I would always want to be making a change for the better rather than staying in a quagmire”. (CMC)