Caribbean News in Brief — May 14-09

PRESIDENT UNDER FIRE

 Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: There are growing calls for President Maxwell Richards to resign, or at least explain his decisions regarding the collapsed Integrity Commission.

The opposition United National Congress and the head of the Law Association are among those who want Richards to quit.

Law Association president, Martin Daly, has accused Richards of incompetence and poor judgment over his choice of appointees to the Commission. Four of the five members appointed have resigned, including the chairman.

Richards is currently away on vacation.

Former head of the Public Service, Reginald Dumas, said he supports calls for the president to abort his holiday and return to explain his actions to the nation.

 ELECTION ALERT

 Roseau, Dominica: Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has put the country on election alert.

The next general election is constitutionally due in 2010. But, addressing a meeting of the ruling Labour Party on the weekend, Skerrit said the next poll may be held sooner than expected.

In March, the opposition United Workers Party said the Prime Minister was planning to call an early election – a claim Skerrit dismissed at the time.

He now says that his Labour Party is putting plans in place to select candidates for the nation’s 21 constituencies.

 NO INFORMANT

 St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: An Antiguan lawyer who has represented one of Sir Allen Stanford’s companies is dismissing claims that the international financier may have been a U.S. government informant.

Stanford, who is accused of bank fraud, is the subject of an investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s show, “Panorama”.

The show claims Sir Allen may have been given free reign to run his banking empire because he was working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

However, John Fuller, an attorney who formerly represented Caribbean Star Airlines, then owned by Stanford, refuted the allegations.

“I don’t give a lot of credence to the suggestion of DEA involvement, particularly in regard to the fact that he spent a lot of time and money honeying up the many U.S. congressmen and senators, ostensibly for protection,” he said.

 BENEFITS URGED

 Bridgetown, Barbados: Opposition leader, Mia Mottley, is calling for the urgent conclusion of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) protocol on contingent rights for migrants.

The agreement would potentially give CARICOM nationals access to social services, such as education and health, on the same terms as nationals of the territories to which they have migrated.

Mottley attributed the absence of the protocol to fears that migrants would weaken the socio-economic benefits available to citizens of host countries.

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