PM says US letter ‘contained nothing new’

Prime Minister Stephenson King

The following is the address delivered by Prime Minister Stephenson King on the issue of the revocation of the United States visa of former Housing Minister Richard Frederick:
“During the past ten days, there has been much speculation about the unexpected decision of the United States Embassy in Barbados to revoke the diplomatic and resident visas of the Honourable Richard Frederick, Parliamentary Representative for Castries Central.
This matter, which was first aired in the public domain on Friday September 16, 2011, has since then understandably sparked much debate.  On Monday September 19, 2011, I issued a short statement acknowledging the unexplained revocation.  I also informed the nation that I had instructed our diplomatic representatives in Washington to seek clarification of this highly sensitive and urgent matter.
On Tuesday, September 20, I held discussions in Saint Lucia with the visiting Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Barbados.  I requested of him a formal notification of the Embassy’s decision to revoke the Minister’s visa, including reasons for the decision.  On Thursday September 22, 2011 I received a hand-delivered letter of the same date from the Embassy.  The letter contained no new information; certainly no reasons for the visa
“After careful consideration of this sensitive matter, which some have sought to turn into a political distraction, and in consultation with the Minister and Cabinet of Ministers, I have accepted the resignation of the Minister from the Cabinet of Ministers, effective Monday, September 26, 2011.
“At this juncture when there is so much to be done to enhance our country’s development, we must not permit ourselves to be side-tracked.  His resignation permits Mr Frederick the time and opportunity to pursue this matter with the Embassy, in his personal capacity.  He has repeatedly assured my Cabinet and the general public that he has done nothing wrong or illegal to warrant the abrupt revocation of his visas.  In the absence of any evidence – or even a specific accusation – of wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Frederick, Government will continue to pursue the matter at the diplomatic level.
“At this time, there is no further elaboration that I can give on this matter.  I would however like to re-iterate that our priority, as always, is to proceed with our task of governing on behalf of the people.  We will not be side- tracked.  I take this opportunity
on behalf of my Cabinet colleagues to thank Mr Frederick for his valuable contributions to the Government and people of Saint Lucia.  I will in the meantime assume responsibility for the portfolios vacated by Mr. Frederick.
“I wish you all God’s blessing. Do have a good night. I thank you.”

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