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All items on CARICOM Heads of Government agenda discussed

All items on CARICOM Heads of Government agenda discussed


CARICOM Heads of Government wrapped up their 25th intercessional meeting here on Tuesday evening claiming progress on several key measures on the way to completing their more than 20 point agenda.{{more}}

Three matters attracted the attention of the wider Vincentian public; the controversial political impasse in St Kitts/Nevis which has seen the two major political parties here in St Vincent and the Grenadines lining up behind the two competing Kittitian parties; the discussion on legalization of medical marijuana; and reparations for slavery and native genocide – the latter two being major discussion points of national debate in recent months.

While not on the Caricom summit agenda, the St Kitts/Nevis political issue dominated media and public attention, with sacked former government Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, who has been seeking to have Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas removed through a motion of no confidence, which he has not been able to have placed on the Order Paper in parliament for the past 15 months, took his campaign to the doorstep of the summit with a picket along the route to the convention site.

Asked for CARICOM’s position on the matter, CARICOM Chairman Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told a post meeting Press briefing on Tuesday night:

““What is the basis on which we can interfere or intervene? If there is a break down in law and order we can interfere, that is not the case. What you have is the internal democratic institutions working out their problem.”

For his part, Dr. Douglas urged Dr. Harris, whom he called power hungry and desperate for the position of Prime Minister, to go through the accepted process to achieve his dreams. He noted that St. Kitts/Nevis remains stable and has been recording economic growth according to latest IMF indicators.

Harris appearing on radio Wednesday, said while here in St Vincent and the Grenadines he had been contacted by ‘at least five Heads of Government’ who ‘have spoken to him and indicated they do not support’ the approach being taken by the government in addressing the political impasse in St Kitts/Nevis.

He indicated that Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell invited him to meet with him at his cabin at the Buccament Bay resort and indicated that while he cannot speak for CARICOM, the Grenada government’s position is that the St Kitt/Nevis government should either debate the no confidence motion in parliament or call general elections, as the situation should not be allowed to continue.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace who has joined with Dr. Harris in his local campaign, questioned the absence of a formal CARICOM statement on the St Kitts/Nevis issue, while the summit agreed on a statement on a matter over which the Guyana parliament have reached an impasse.

The Guyana government has failed to get the necessary opposition support to approve legislation to combat money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, and remove the country from the blacklist of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. CARICOM’s statement was due, it says, to the implications the stalemate holds for trade and economic development in the region.

“What we have done in Guyana is not to interfere with the democratic process in Guyana. We are just saying you see this issue this could affect the region in our trading and economic relationship so guys please sort this thing out, we are not interfering in anyway”, the CARICOM chairman told reporters.

On the matter of the reparations for slavery and native genocide the Chairman said the leaders decided to make an approach to the European countries being targeted by June this year, in the hope that the Europeans will agree to a mature conversation, after which the Caribbean will put forward a formal claim.

Amid some divisions on the issue of legalization of marijuana for medicinal use, the heads agreed to pursue further discussions on the matter through a regional commission, which will provide ‘clear guidance to the Heads with regard to the decisions to be taken’

Other significant issues discussed were building a single Information and Communication Technology(ICT) space, climate change, the economic state of member countries, reform of legal education, and regional integration.