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Three new government senators to be named – Slater to be appointed Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM

Three new government senators to be named – Slater to be appointed  Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM

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Three new government senators will be named before the end of this month.{{more}}

While addressing parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that Thursday’s sitting of the House would be the last meeting for senators Douglas Slater, Elvis Charles and David Browne.

The prime minister said Slater, who is minister of foreign affairs, foreign trade and consumer affairs in the current administration, will be demitting office for “a very important regional job”.

In a brief interview yesterday, Slater told SEARCHLIGHT that as of October, he will be taking up the post of Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM responsible for human and social development. He will be based in Guyana.

Slater, a medical doctor, first entered the political scene in 1998, when he unsuccessfully contested the South Leeward seat for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) against the incumbent Jeremiah Scott of the New Democratic Party (NDP), who had held the seat for 14 years up to that point. Scott narrowly beat him by 2,117 votes to 2,104.

Slater’s luck was to change in 2001, when he romped home, beating Scott 2,614 votes to 2,244. He was again victorious in 2005, defeating the NDP’S Nigel ‘Nature’ Stephenson by 2,318 votes to 2,203. Slater did not contest the December 2010 elections, but was appointed senator and a minister of government.

In 2010, Gonsalves had described Slater as his “favoured son” and said he had once hoped that Slater would succeed him as prime minister.

Senators Charles and Browne were appointed government senators in December 2010, after they both unsuccessfully contested the general elections earlier that month. Charles contested the Central Kingstown seat, but was beaten by St Claire Leacock of the NDP, 2445 votes to 2,063. He was appointed parliamentary secretary in the office of the prime minister, then later parliamentary secretary in the ministry of tourism, sports and culture. The prime minister said Charles will be taking up “another appointment”. While he did not specify, it has been widely rumoured that he will be appointed manager of the Housing and Land Development Corporation.

The prime minister said Senator Browne, who is also deputy speaker, is demitting office to “further his university education both by distance and face to face learning.” Browne contested the South Leeward seat for the ULP in 2010, but was beaten by Nigel Stevenson of the NDP 2,595 votes to 2,396.

The prime minister thanked the three senators for their “excellent contribution” to the House and for their “tremendous service to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

While Gonsalves gave no indication as to the identity of the new senators, he said one of them would be appointed a minister of government, while another would be a parliamentary secretary. He said the third would be appointed deputy Speaker. A usually reliable source close to the government told SEARCHLIGHT that Camillo Gonsalves, this country’s ambassador to the United Nations and son of the prime minister will fill one of senatorial vacancies, while Luke Browne, who unsuccessfully contested the East Kingstown seat for the ULP in 2010 will fill another. Browne lost to Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace 2,122 votes to 1589. There is not yet any indication as to who will fill the third vacancy. The fourth government senator is minister of transport and works Julian Francis.

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