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Shake-up in Foreign Affairs personnel announced

Shake-up in Foreign Affairs personnel announced

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This country’s diplomats have been asked to not just preside over the staff at their overseas missions, but to try their best to make a meaningful contribution to the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The plea for productivity and proactivity came yesterday from Minister of Foreign Affairs Sir Louis Straker at a forum at his Ministry’s conference room, during which he announced a number of changes to this country’s overseas diplomatic line-up.

The changes see this country’s ambassador to Cuba, Dexter Rose, who has been in that position for 11 years, being recalled and replaced by head of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit Ellsworth John. John’s wife Charmaine Tappin-John will also go to Cuba, where she will take up the position as Minister Counsellor, a position that had been held by Rose’s Cuban-born wife Lotier.{{more}}

Thanking Rose for his years of service, Straker said that most countries appoint their ambassadors for two years, with Barbados changing every four years, but Rose served for 11 years.

“It must not be viewed as though it was some sort of sanction or punishment when we rotate our people, but it is just an infusion of new blood. It is always good that when we have new people that we have new insights and new energy in order to give us results to our benefit,” said Straker, who noted that John is a veteran diplomat who served this country as an Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS).

The second announcement sees Selmon Walters being rotated after serving six years as consul general in New York. He is being replaced by head of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) Howie Prince. Prince has headed NEMO for the last 12 years.

Straker said that the Government is not going to appoint a deputy consul general in NY, but soon, a trade attaché to promote trade and investment in SVG will be announced.

This country will also have a new ambassador to the United States (US) and to the Organization of American States (OAS). Chief education officer Lou-anne Gilchrist has been appointed to this position. She will also be this country’s High Commissioner to Canada.

Gilchrist replaces La Celia Prince, who resigned the post almost one year ago on September 7, 2015. When Prince left, Omari Williams acted in the position she vacated.

Thanking Williams, Straker said that he has done a “fantastic job” as the chargé d’affaires in Washington. “We want to thank him for covering since

La Celia Prince took on a new position at the OAS,” said Straker.

Speaking further, Straker revealed that Andreas Wickham, who is serving as this country’s ambassador in Venezuela, will be in that position for a few more months, while Fitz Huggins remains as St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Consul General in Canada.

Straker noted that Huggins is trying to get more Vincentians on the Canadian farm worker programme, while also trying to expand on the employment of this country’s skilled and semi-skilled workers in Canada.

SVG’s High Commissioner in London, Cenio Lewis, has been described by Straker as “a person that has served us longer than any person in our missions abroad.” Straker said that Lewis, a trained nurse and lawyer, who has Bachelor’s degrees in economics and theology, has done a fantastic job and would remain in the UK a little longer.

Inga Rhonda King, this country’s ambassador to the UN, would also remain in that position, even as the Government is considering giving her additional staff in Geneva and New York.

“I am asking the diplomats that as they go back to their offices, some for the first time, do not go back presiding over a staff, but think every quarter and ask yourself what have you done in order to make a meaningful contribution to St Vincent and the Grenadines,” stressed Straker.

The announcement of the new ambassadorial postings was made at the opening ceremony of the national consultation for heads of missions and consulates. A forum of this nature where matters of foreign policy are discussed has not been held for five years.(LC)

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