By Lesroy W. Williams
(Basseterre, St.Kitts)—The rumours abounding that the Hon. G.A. Dwyer Astaphan, Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, and parliamentary representative for constituency #2, had tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Denzil Douglas have been laid to rest.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, disclosed yesterday in a press conference at Government Headquarters that he received Minister Astaphan’s resignation letter in February of this year.
“Minister Astaphan’s contributions are worthy of the highest accolades,” the Prime Minister said in noting Astaphan’s contribution to the Labour Party, the Government of St.Kitts and Nevis and the Region.
The Prime Minister dispelled rumours that he and Minister Astaphan could not see eye to eye when he was asked by a reporter at the press conference.
“I think it is good. Mr. Astaphan has been a member of my cabinet and has functioned as a member of government,” Prime Minister Douglas said in speaking of the working relationship between Mr. Astaphan and himself.
At the present time, Minister Astaphan is on holiday, but will relinquish his ministerial post on the 31st of July and will continue to represent his constituency in the National Assembly until the house is dissolved.
While Mr. Astaphan is on vacation, the Honourable Earl Assim Martin is the acting Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, a post which he has filled for the past 4 years.
Prime Minister Douglas said that Minister Martin is very fit to fill Mr. Astaphan’s post.
“Minister Martin has some peculiar characteristics that I understand. He is a very, very firm person. He is one in my cabinet who is extremely firm about crime. He lives in an area, he represents a constituency that is engaged in a number of these (criminal) activities and he has taken that part very seriously. It is because I detect that seriousness about him…that firm oneness of mind, why I have used him in the past,” the Prime Minister said.
Minister Astaphan has been a Member of Parliament for thirteen years. He won in general elections for three consecutive terms, 1995, 2000 and 2004.
“From day one, and consistently since, I have served honestly and faithfully and without fear or favour, always seeking God’s guidance and wisdom, and always seeking truth. I have worked hard, tirelessly dedicated to the philosophy of the Labour Movement, and to the personal, social, economic and political empowerment and happiness of the people of this Federation. I have endeavoured to be a driving force in the effort to mould in our Federation a truly consultative, open, proactive and adaptable democracy, underpinned by the rule of law, by the principles of good governance, and by social conscience,” Mr. Astaphan said in speaking of his work over the years.
Minister Astaphan has held eleven portfolios over the past thirteen years, namely, Tourism, Environment, Culture, Telecommunications, Information, Commerce, Consumer Affairs, National Security, Justice, Immigration, and Labour.
Mr. Astaphan, who has been signaling for some time now his desire to exit representational politics, said that the time had now come.
“For some time, I have been engaged in a process of deep and broad reflection and prayer. This has led me in a particular direction. Consequently, about four months ago, I advised Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas, that I would stand down as a Minister of his Cabinet, effective 31st July, 2008,” Mr. Astaphan said in his letter communicated to the press.
“It is my intention and desire to continue serving the good people of Central Basseterre as their Parliamentary Representative until such time as Parliament is dissolved, and to do so with unflinching vigour, tenacity and honour.I will continue, without distraction, to seek out remedies for our problems with antisocial and criminal behaviour among our troubled youths, to seek out ways to guide and encourage them along the path of self esteem, pride, dignity, productivity, and economic and social safety, and to assist, however possible, in the vital process of encouraging greater parental and community responsibility and care in the development of our nation’s children,” he further stated.
“It has been, and it always will be, the greatest honour and privilege to serve my country,” Mr. Astaphan said.
Mr. Astaphan thanked the people of Central Basseterre, groups, enterprises, institutions, public servants, family and friends, who have supported, encouraged, guided and held him up with their prayers over the years.