Where oh where has the POTROL gone?

When the Minister of External Affairs assured bibulous apostles at a public rally several months ago that Allen Chastanet would become our nation’s prime minister “over my dead body” many fools rushed in to say Saint Lucia’s only member of parliament with a sense of humor had declared a state of war—as if indeed there had not already been an earlier cri de geurre from on high: no less than the prime minister in war paint had more than once announced from the steps of the Castries market that “this general election will be between the Labour Party and the Chastanets!” And Kenny Anthony, like his Cabinet colleague the MP for Soufriere, had never delivered a joke that was intended as a joke.

On the other hand, Alva Baptiste—who by not so reliable account prefers to be known as President of the Republic of Laborie!—has absolutely no trouble seeing the funny side of life even when the joke is on him. His unforgettable reminder during a budget presentation that alcohol is “the lubricant for diplomatic intercourse” tickled even the corseted ribs of Emma and Alvina—and I dare to say funny bones throughout the region. At any rate, such corners as are not generally considered confederacies of dunces.

Alva Baptiste: Is he destined further to walk in the shoes of his predecessor the late external affairs minister George Odlum? Has he been silenced as Odlum was silenced?

Alva Baptiste: Is he destined further to walk in the shoes of his predecessor the late external affairs minister George Odlum? Has he been silenced as Odlum was silenced?

Alva was as sharp as a tack on the recalled occasion, enough to recognize that while intercourse and discourse may be interchangeable, the combination lacked the sly lubricity inherent in lubricant and intercourse together in the same sentence! It need be said that the remark had set all fists pounding the House table, although one remains even now uncertain why. Our politicians will applaud almost anything that rings like a booze endorsement!

I, for one, miss Alva’s, er, bon ?mots. Not only has the sometimes garrulous MP evidently lost his voice, it would seem he has also done a disappearing act. Inquirers are more often than not told by his office staff that the minister is “out” or “at a meeting.” Questions or statements that normally would have come from the minister himself are now issued by individuals whose portfolios have nothing whatsoever to do with external affairs. It’s as if Alva has (dare I say it?) taken a page out of the justice minister’s manual and gone into hibernation for reasons he alone knows.

Not a word, not a word, not a word has been heard from Alva in weeks. Not on Walid Juffali. Not a word, not a word, not a word on the Saudi’s activities, whether in relation with the IMO or connected to the declared “personal matter” of his Saint Lucia-afforded immunity. If our high commissioner in London does not know whether Juffali has a diplomatic passport, shouldn’t the external affairs ministry have been quick to inform him—or the inquiring press? They apparently did not, or were not asked, or don’t know the details of Juffali’s appointment a year ago.

Yes, the prime minister has addressed the issue, sorta. But since when dat’s de prime minister’s role to speak for the President of the Republic of Laborie? Even Guy Joseph would know dat’s not right! And now the word is that a special delegation is in London “to discuss the Juffali case” that includes almost everyone, from the pride of Dominica’s court jesters and his cat to, well, let’s just say the external affairs minister is not on board.

As if that were not sufficient cause for national alarm, it is bruited about that the prime minister has decided, should he avoid being sent a second time to purgatory, that the man best suited to replace him a few months after the next elections is neither the POTROL nor his clone of a darker shade. A word to our beleaguered police: for the foreseeable future, please be particularly careful that the dead bodies you identify are really who you say they are!

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