St. Lucia’s Acting PM Alleges Embarrassment At French Ambassador’s Residence

By Frank Girard
HBN, St. Lucia

Hardbeatnews, CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Weds. July 27, 2005: A diplomatic hullabaloo may be brewing in Saint Lucia over claims that the island’s acting prime minister was snubbed at the residence of the French representative there.

Saint Lucia’s Ministry of External Affairs has dispatched a diplomatic note to the French Embassy in Saint Lucia, expressing the government’s concern about a recent embarrassing incident involving a senior local government minister on the premises of the French Embassy.

Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, Senator Petrus Compton, in dispatching the diplomatic note, stated that, “Acting Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, had driven to the residence of the French Ambassador to attend a reception which was being held in observance of the National Day of France on July 14.”

But Senator Compton said that on arrival at the gate, the acting prime minister was refused permission to drive his vehicle through the gate, while other people were allowed in.

The person at the gate is also alleged to have made some unflattering comments about the acting prime minister.

In its diplomatic note, the ministry also referred to the excellent relations which exist between Saint Lucia and France and it added that given the importance of the occasion, the executive arm of the government wanted to be represented at the highest level.

The diplomatic note continued: “However, it appears that whilst persons of lesser rank were allowed to drive their vehicles through, the acting prime minister was not allowed this courtesy.”

The Ministry of External Affairs also expressed the hope that incidents of this nature will not recur.

Pierre, who is also Minister for Commerce, Tourism, Investment and Consumer Affairs and the parliamentary representative for the Castries East Constituency, was recently elected first deputy political leader of the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party, which won a landslide victory at the polls on May 23, 1997.

The then ruling United Workers Party was decimated, with only one party member regaining his parliamentary seat in the person of Louis George, former minister of education and opposition leader.

Asked to comment on the claim, the French Ambassador to St. Lucia, Bernard Venzo, said the matter was being dealt with at the diplomatic level and he was not at liberty to comment publicly on “this unfortunate incident.” However, the French Embassy added that a press statement may be issued at a later date. –