St Lucia opposition boycotts swearing-in of new governor general

SLP member of parliament Alva Baptiste referred to Cenac as a man of no merit and no credit.

New Governor General, Neville Cenac (R), was sworn-in on Friday in the absence of opposition parliamentariansCASTRIES, St Lucia — In a series of events that was bizarre even for the body politic in Saint Lucia, the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) boycotted the swearing-in on Friday of new governor general Neville Cenac.

Previously, on Thursday, the SLP issued a press release stating that the members of the SLP in both houses of parliament will absent themselves from the swearing-in of the governor general and from the delivery of any throne speech by Cenac, who it described as “the current unfit holder of the office of governor general of Saint Lucia”.

Some two hours later, the SLP issued an amended release omitting the statement regarding attendance at the swearing-in and any throne speech, thereby creating considerable uncertainty as to its intentions.

On Friday, SLP parliamentarians were in fact conspicuous by their absence at the swearing-in ceremony.

Cenac’s appointment as governor general has prompted a vigorous response from the SLP, saying that the office should be occupied by a person whose character is beyond reproach, commands the respect of the population, is trustworthy and a unifying force within the country.

Leader of the opposition, Philip J. Pierre, said that supporters and in particular the constituents of Laborie remain disgusted and hurt by the events surrounding the switching of political allegiances by Cenac following the 1987 general election.

“He presented himself to the electorate as a Labour Party candidate, won the elections, and days later joined the opposing United Workers Party to be appointed a minister,” he recalled.

Pierre added that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has so far displayed callous disregard for custom and convention that characterize a civilized society and ensures good governance and respect for the rule of law.

“From his failure to use his majority in the House to ensure the appointment of a deputy speaker, to his attempt to frustrate the proceedings in parliament, the withdrawal of the subvention to the National Trust, and his contempt and arrogance to the official opposition by his refusal to acknowledge correspondence or engage in meaningful consultation,” he said.

Pierre noted that Chastanet failed to follow convention and good governance practices by consulting the leader of the opposition on the appointment of the governor general.

“Had he done so, he would have been cautioned against the risk of potentially bringing the office into disrepute and derision given the unprecedented election events of 1987… The result of his high-handed approach to governing the country is now bearing fruit. The country is divided and polarized on an issue that should be acceptable to the majority,” he said.

SLP member of parliament Alva Baptiste went even further, referring to Cenac as a man of no merit and no credit.

“Apart from his act of crossing the floor, Neville Cenac was best known in the politics of St Lucia as a political clown… Then there was his contribution to the dialogue on the tourism industry, translated from the kweyol language: ‘Why are we fussing about tourism, tourists are just people painted in white’,” Baptiste said.

“What it is about Neville Cenac, a man of no integrity or ability, who never held a job outside of political office since he left his job in 1974 as a clerk in his brother’s law office to go to England to study law that would recommend him to the office of governor general?” he asked.

“I reiterate that Prime Minister Chastanet’s appointment of Neville Cenac to the position of governor general is to desecrate the inner sanctum of this high office,” Baptiste concluded.

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