Jeannine Compton-Antoine’s conference on Friday was hardly an occasion just for the press. Even before the 11am start time, curious residents stood outside the Micoud Multi Purpose Centre anxiously awaiting the arrival of their parliamentary representative. Like everyone else in St Lucia, news of Compton’s resignation had taken them all by surprise.
Residents flooded into the centre along with the press as a lone Jeannine Compton-Antoine made her way to the makeshift podium that was set up in front of the room. They all wanted to hear what the constituency representative had to say about her seemingly out of the blue resignation.
When Compton finally spoke she explained why she was finally breaking her media silence. It was time to stop the speculation and rumours that had been going around from Sunday, February 6 when she officially submitted her resignation letter to the prime minister of St Lucia.
“I must say this was not an easy decision and I prayed for days over this matter,” she said. “In the end the guidance from God was that I would better represent the people of the constituency and St Lucia if I leave the party.”
Compton said it had been made clear to her from the time she was elected that she was not wanted in the party.
“Yet I have stayed,” she said. “Maybe the way I operate my politics is different. St Lucians need to stand up for what is true and right. Maybe because when I stand up in Parliament, I account for what I do. Maybe it’s a different form of politics. Maybe because I’m a women I operate differently, but that is how politics and governance is supposed to happen.”
Before anyone had a chance to raise the “yellow blanket” comment, the Micoud North parliamentary representative stated: “Yes, I was wrapped in a yellow blanket, my navel string is buried in the United Workers Party. If you choose to serve your country, you must at all times stand for what is right and just and fight at all times for the rights of the people.”
Did her resignation mean that she would go up as an Independent candidate or even more shockingly as a candidate for the St Lucia Labour Party come general elections?
“I haven’t discussed the matter with the constituents and upon my meeting with the constituents then I will know where I stand,” Compton said. “Right now I am an elected member of Parliament. I have not resigned from Parliament. I am still the Parliamentary representative of Micoud North and given that I am not affiliated with any party I am an independent person in the Parliament. If I had resigned completely I would no longer be the parliamentary representative of Micoud North. I find that would be unfair on the people of Micoud North, and also the people of St Lucia because it would have pushed us into a general elections in the next two or three months.”
Within her opening statement Compton said she would continue to speak on behalf of the people of Micoud North, and that one day, the voice of many would no longer be ignored. One reporter wanted to know, if she was truly the voice of the people, why hadn’t she gone to the people of her constituency before resigning from the Party?
“I consulted with the chairperson of my party and certain members of the branch,” Compton responded. “There was some level of consultation. I do admit that maybe I should have discussed the matter but I was under the guidance of God… I’m going to have discussions with the people and the people are going to have their time to ask me why I did what I did.”
Compton said limited budgetary allocations had a lot to do with her resignation. She had a budget of $30,000 a year to run her constituency office, pay secretarial staff and utilities. Other than that she said no money was given to her as a district representative to do any work in the constituency.
“You are at the mercy of ministers and ministries,” she expressed. “I don’t expect government to give everything to the constituency, but at least remember the constituency in the development of St Lucia.
“The parliamentary representative is bypassed in most instances and ministers do what they want in the constituency wit no consultation with either the representative or
the local government authority. The procedures and regulations of ministries and laws of St Lucia are ignored or overruled. I have cried on many nights wondering why this was being done to the constituency. I prayed about it. You ask for certain things to be resolved and it’s not, then you question, why am I here?”
Would she ever return to the United Workers Party?
Compton did not have a yes or no answer. She stated that she did not have any issue with the ministers or the prime minister of the country; her problem was that the party was moving away from key principles.
“My issue with the UWP is that they need to do an internal reflection; look at principles and philosophy,” she said.
“I am a UWP person. People find it hard because I have resigned but the very things
the party stood for are disappearing, and therefore, if the party doesn’t go back to that, there will be no party and there will be nothing for me to return to.”