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ALL AH WE IS ONE: St Lucian confusion

Tennyson Joseph

ALL AH WE IS ONE: St Lucian confusion

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Since the death of Prime Minister John Compton in September 2010, political developments in St Lucia have provided ample evidence of the fragile foundations upon which Caribbean claims to “good government” are built.
Among the troubling developments which have bedevilled Compton’s ruling United Workers’ Party (UWP) include: an acrimonious internal revolt against succeeding Prime Minister Stephenson King; revelations of an earlier incarceration in a United States federal prison of the current Foreign Minister Rufus Bousquet; the arrest, without charge, of Housing Minister Richard Frederick for alleged customs fraud; the arrest and charging of two government parliamentarians for traffic violations; the successful legal challenge by the opposition of a controversial Cabinet decision designed to legitimise customs fraud by a sitting minister; and the resignation of two UWP parliamentarians from the party, one of whom is the daughter of founding leader John Compton, who has repeated concerns of the failure of the government to fully account for the use of Taiwanese funds controversially paid to constituencies, rather than the consolidated fund.  
These developments however, pale into insignificance when juxtaposed against the recent decision by the United States government to revoke the diplomatic and immigrant visa of St Lucia’s Housing Minister Richard Frederick.  
This heralds the emergence of new material reality which signals the plunge of St Lucia into new depths of political degeneration.
Even more significant as an indicator of the decline in the standards of good governance, is the decision by the prime minister and the implicated minister, to do nothing about this development.
The latter has taken to the airwaves to declare that no resignation will be forthcoming since a US visa is not a requirement for the work of a parliamentary representative.  
King’s response – a clear bid for a “time out” – was simply to indicate that he had given instructions to his officials in Washington to investigate the basis for the visa cancellation.
Indeed, the failure of the Prime Minister to act decisively at critical moments when the sacred walls of good government are tested, has been a major contributor to the state of affairs in St Lucia.  
There are several built-in layers of intervention, which can slow the slide down the slippery slope of political corruption.  
There are administrative and legal rules in between.  
The sad truth about St Lucia is that none of these checks have worked, perhaps because, numbed by the accumulated weight of past unpunished transgressions, the country’s moral compass has shifted.
In a context where ordinary citizens are urging for CARICOM to become relevant, it may wish to widen its mandate as an appropriate response. Is it now opportune for CARICOM to include “good governance” as another of its pillars of regional development?
Time will tell.

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