On the evening of Sunday, 8 March 2015—with the ostensible backing of a team of imported investigators comprising “a cyber-crime analyst, detectives, a ballistic expert, a data entry specialist and a legal advisor”—a suitably solemn prime minister Kenny Anthony revealed to a local audience and others elsewhere via the Internet that “the crime problem in Saint Lucia is facilitated by corrupt politicians, government officials, business persons and police officers.”
It remains conjectural the full impact of the prime minister’s words on trusting Saint Lucian hearts the world over. As if the evident icing of the IMPACS report were not already more than enough cause for pause, last Friday the President of the Saint Lucia Senate, Mr. Claudius Francis, costumed for titillating show business, planted in the nation’s paranoiac psyche a ticking time bomb that most local journalists considered too dangerous to tackle.
Of course, there were those in the media, social and unsocial, all with their own self-serving takes on what Francis, via his Straight Up show, delivered. In part: “Two Sundays ago, two senior police officers and a couple others met with a certain businessman, gave him certain information, planted stories about Vernon Francois being bought out for five million dollars. The police surreptitiously obtained search warrants . . . these are not people who’ve killed people, or done anything . . . they run government ministries. They [police] entered Robert Lewis’ and Emma Hippolyte’s offices, entered Invest Saint Lucia, and while at Invest Saint Lucia one of the police officers, using the F-word no less, told a computer operator—using the F-word—’When you see we finish with y’all, Kenny and all of you goin’ down.’”
Yes, going down!
Additionally: “Somebody told them the Labour Party had received a campaign donation from AIMU [American International Medical University] during its election campaign. And they said, ‘aha,’ because Kenny Anthony had been a lecturer at the university for one semester around 2007. You know, when you think you have somebody, a eureka moment? That’s what some cops thought they had. So they executed a warrant on the man’s premises, took away all kinds of computers, took away checks from a million years ago . . . But they’re not saying they found checks to the United Workers Party . . . All they’re interested in is Operation Remove Kenny Anthony.”
How do the police “remove” the prime minister? It’s not clear, at this point, and doubtless there will be dangerous IMPACS-related speculations!
Francis went on, while fingering paper that may or may not have been letters and checks—possible police exhibits: “Nowhere in the world does a police force have the power that the police force exercised last week, when it wrote Alvina Reynolds, the minister for health, instructing her, Alvina Reynolds, to close down AIMU. I repeat: the RSLPF, assuming unto itself a power that no police force in the world has, wrote to the health minister Alvina Reynolds demanding that she shut down AIMU. And here was I thinking we are a democratic country . . . that when you are charged you remain innocent until proven guilty. But our police force, certain segments within the CID, and at least two other people of high-ranking profile, have decided he [AIMU’s CEO] is guilty.”
Francis assured Straight Up listeners that the prime minister was well aware of the plot involving police officers and local businessmen and he was “waiting to see what he does about it.” He also challenged skeptics to prove wrong anything he had said, in which case he would hand “Kenny Anthony my resignation from the senate.”
On Thursday the prime minister’s office issued a press release as confirmation “that the statements by Senator Claudius Francis are not inconsistent with information which has reached him [Dr. Anthony].”
It is worth noting that while Francis has persistently warned listeners to his show that his remarks while hosting Straight Up should never be construed as coming from the mouth of the Senate President, the response from the PM’s office says the precise opposite!
The prime minister was reported as saying: “I have listened to members of the opposition calling for the resignation of Senator Claudius Francis regarding statements made on his talk show on Friday, 18 September 2015. As I stated during an interview on MBC Television on Monday 21 September, I was aware of the situation even prior to Senator Francis’ utterances. There was nothing in Senator Francis’ statements which are (sic) inconsistent with the information which had reached me previously. The issues . . . involve a small minority of police officers bent on embarrassing the government of Saint Lucia for political ends. I am at the moment awaiting the return to island of the acting commissioner of police and will request a thorough investigation into the matter.”
The prime minister obviously tried to be careful about his statement. Still it leaves unanswered questions: What could the police know that carried the potential to embarrass the government into mass resignation? Is this embarrassing possibility IMPACS-related? What is the prime minister implying by his concurrence with the senate president that a group of police officers and business people are bent on bringing the government down? There are only two ways to achieve this: via the ballot box and by any other means possible.
If there is even the smallest suspicion that the police and other individuals are bent on “removing” the government by means other than the ballot box, then this is a serious matter that puts the whole country at risk and should be immediately addressed.
But, unlike the senate president, it appears the prime minister is in no big hurry to get to the bottom of what could be the worst disaster to hit disaster-prone Saint Lucia. Since the prime minister has acknowleged he knew of the alleged plot even before the senator revealed it on TV, why no action even at this point? Will the prime minister require the police yet again to investigate itself concerning a matter with possibly graver consequences than IMPACS?
For the record, some pertinent excerpts from the letter relating to the “closing down of AIMU,” whose CEO I interviewed on TALK several months ago, when he acknowledged our current prime minister had lectured at his university for thousands of dollars.
The letter is addressed to the health minister Alvina Reynolds’ permanent secretary, not to the minister as earlier claimed, never mind the prime minister’s stated concurrence. Moreover, it states that protracted police investigations had resulted in several serious charges against AIMU’s CEO, with more to come. Based on that, the police considered it “prudent” to write to the PS at the health ministry, “to recommend that your ministry close the school in the short term—until they regularize their status as a learning institution.”
And not without reasonable cause: “This interim measure proposed would not only serve to protect our regulatory institutions but also protect current and prospective students who have applied for and are due to commence studies at the institution in the upcoming semester.”
The police are well aware that the prime minister’s name is listed in the school’s prospectus, as a member of its faculty—with attendant implications. Nothing new here. I revealed this information on TALK several weeks ago, and on several later occasions.
In all events, what does this unfolding story do for the image of our beleaguered police force, reeling as it is from the IMPACS fall-out? Will the Chamber of Commerce enter the picture any time soon? Or does the Chamber, as do many, accept the words “businessmen” and “UWP politicians” as mere Kenny euphemisms for Chastanet the father and Chastanet the son?
After all, the prime minister did publicly declare several months ago that the next general elections will be “a war between the Labour Party and the Chastanets!” Hopefully, the nation will protect itself from collateral damage!