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Party support is not enough

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The Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration must now be convinced, if by chance they were not before, that ardent support for the party is not the most important factor to be considered when appointing diplomats to posts overseas.

Earlier this week, Sehon Marshall was called home for consultations (and all indications are that he will be fired), after he was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with his wife, an incident graphically reported in the New York press. Almost four years ago, Edson Augustus was fired from his post of deputy consul general at the Consulate General of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in New York, after he held himself as being able to assist Vincentians in the United States with the acquisition of ‘green cards’.

The sad thing about both cases is that prior to these gentlemen being appointed, concerns were raised about their suitability, but other considerations held greater sway.

Party support is not enough, neither are academic qualifications nor membership in a church. Before being posted overseas, our diplomats and their spouses should undergo extreme vetting to ensure that they possess key personal traits, including suitable temperament, deportment and ability to engage people from a wide range of backgrounds.

We have entered our 39th year as an independent nation and now is as good a time as any to begin to grow a corps of well trained career diplomats, capable of representing our nation with distinction in capitals all over the world. We boast of our Education Revolution and having dozens of graduates from universities near and far; they could form the core of the corps in training, and the best among them chosen for key positions.

Of course, no government will appoint anyone to a diplomatic position who is perceived to be opposed to its policies. But that must not be the most important factor and appointments should not be viewed as a reward for hard work done by a party supporter.

We should also take care with other appointments.

In our Midweek edition of November 28, we reported on a case from the Marriaqua Magistrate’s Court in which, according to evidence given by the police, a justice of the peace tried to stop the police from carrying out a search of his home, in which counterfeit money was found. A member of the household of the justice of the peace was convicted and fined $20,000 for the offence.

This is a most disturbing development, especially given the powers which holders of that office have, and points to the need for more careful vetting prior to appointment and periodic review on a regular basis.

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