Prime Minister Allen Chastanet Tuesday may have dumped cold water over any jubilation anyone may have had when allegations of the resignation of Public Service Minister Ubaldus Raymond surfaced last Friday afternoon, but he sure has been unable to stop the flood of public comments on the issue up to this day.
Up to press time yesterday both morning and afternoon talk shows were inundated with calls on the Ubaldus Raymond matter with callers posing even more questions about the matter than ever before.
The Prime Minister took reporters by surprise when he bluntly said “that’s not true” to a question by a reporter asking whether he had asked Raymond to resign.
To the question: “So, the news reports that he has resigned are incorrect?” Chastanet’s response was “Correct”.
Prime Minister Chastanet had at first declined to comment on the resignation but later gave in adding that an investigation is ongoing into the events that may have prompted reports of Raymond’s resignation.
“That’s why I’d rather not comment on it,” Chastanet said speaking of the investigation and allegations surrounding Raymond’s resignation.
“Certainly, when I have all the facts, I will be very happy to be able to do that (speak on the matter),” Chastanet said.
The prime minister’s response, four days after news of Raymond’s alleged resignation surfaced, did not abate the debate over whether Raymond should continue in the employ of the government as the Public Service Minister and Senator.
Head of the Catholic Church in Saint Lucia, Archbishop Robert Rivas may well have added a new dimension to the debate when, to a question asked of him revolving around the expectations for leaders, he said leaders should be held to a higher standard than the average person.
“Every leader should be held to a higher standard in whatever level of society we operate whether we are teachers, priests, bishops or at the level of politics, parliament, and civil leaders. Everybody has to have a standard…” the Archbishop said.
The Archbishop told reporters Tuesday that “everybody should be open to criticism” and “a real leader should never be afraid of criticism.”
“You should always be open to it, open to discussion, open to questions and open to building a better world,” Rivas said.
News of the Minister’s resignation surfaced last Friday afternoon and by nightfall it was the big story on both old and new media.
Alongside news of his resignation, and what many speculate may have led to the allegations of resignation, were recordings of conversations between what many people believed to be Raymond and a woman identified as being of Trinidadian descent.
This is not the first time Minister Raymond has found himself in that type of a social media firestorm. He fought a similar controversy last year with two women in their late teens, in which he said they sought to blackmail him over nude photos and texts that went viral on social media.
That matter created a controversy that generated much public resentment against Raymond and the government with Chastanet coming under unrelenting pressure to fire Raymond, who at the time was Minister for Finance. That matter after a while fizzled out due to the charges being withdrawn and Raymond claiming to have forgiven the women for attempting to blackmail him.
Meanwhile Infrastructure Minister Stephenson King said that generally, if a member of the Cabinet of Ministers is compromised by way of integrity, ability, capability of performance and commitment to national service and national development, then the prime minister can review that minister’s appointment to the Cabinet of Ministers and determine whether that member can continue to serve.
“There is also a responsibility on the part of the member to determine am I fit to continue. That is a conscious decision to be made as to his ability to continue,” King said.