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Ministers boycott ceremony

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

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Political tensions mounted in Grenada on Friday after three government ministers boycotted a swearing in ceremony where they were due to take the oath of office following a Cabinet re-shuffle announced by Prime Minister Tillman Thomas late on Thursday.
An official statement issued here said that Prime Minister Thomas said that Karl Hood would take over responsibility for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environment and International Trade that was previously held by Peter David, while Glynis Roberts, will serve as Minister for Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs.
It said that former Cabinet minister Michael Church, will now serve as a junior minister in the Ministry of Works, Physical Development and Public Utilities.
But none of the ministers turned up at the Governor General’s Office amid media reports of a  rift within the two-year-old Cabinet over the re-shuffle, the second since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) came to office in July 2008.
The Governor General’s Office confirmed that it had received no communication from Church and that Roberts and David had indicated they were unable to attend.
But when contacted by reporters, the disgruntled legislators also refused to explain their decision not to be sworn in.
David and Church are reported to be upset with Prime Minister Thomas’s decision to change their portfolios.
Hood, the new foreign affairs minister and Dennoth Modeste, who is to be her junior minister, were the only two persons who turned up at the Governor General’s Office for the occasion.
Reporters waiting for the arrival of David, Roberts and Church, were asked to leave the Governor General’s Office since ‘the process was now complete’.
David, Church, Roberts and Hood were also at the centre of first major cabinet shake-up last year and the
disgruntled MPs are accusing Prime Minister Thomas of refusing to meet with them to discuss the cabinet changes.
But a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Press Secretariat late on Thursday said that the meeting had been cancelled “at the request of the member of Cabinet who requested it”
Meantime, Prime Minister Thomas has said that Church was demoted because of his decision to attend a meeting in Italy with regional trade advisor Dr. Patrick Antoine, without the consent of Cabinet.
“Mr. Church has done something totally out of the way. He went to Geneva without Cabinet authority. So that is why he has been demoted.
“He went to a meeting where Dr. Patrick Antoine was representing some company and Mr. Church was facilitating.  It is not in the best interest of Grenada. The office of a Minister is not that of a freelancer. The minister has to work for the people who he is representing,” the Prime Minister added.