By Lesroy W. Williams

Observer Reporter

lesroywilliams@thestkittsnevisobserver.com

(Basseterre, St. Kitts) -“For some time, I have been engaged in a process of deep and broad reflection and prayer. This had led me in a particular direction. Consequently, about four months ago, I advised Prime Minister Douglas, that I would stand down as a Member of his Cabinet, effective 31st July, 2008.”

These are the words of the Hon. G.A. Dwyer Astaphan, Minister of National Security, Labour and Immigration, written in a letter dated July 8, 2008 to the press. At the time the letter was written Mr. Astaphan was on holiday.

One day later, Prime Minister, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, at his monthly press conference on July 9, announced to the press for the first time that Minister Astaphan had tendered his resignation four months ago.

Minister Astaphan is no longer a member of Cabinet but will continue to represent his constituency in the National Assembly until the house is dissolved.

Minister Astaphan’s resignation as a member of Cabinet has left many in the Federation speculating about the reasons. Rumours continue to abound that Mr. Astaphan and Prime Minister Douglas are at loggerheads. The Prime Minister has thrown water on the rumours, choosing instead the road of diplomacy. Minister Astaphan has remained silent on the rumours.

“I think it is good. Mr.Astaphan has been a member of my cabinet and has functioned as a member of government,” the Prime Minister said in his response to questions pertaining to his relationship with Astaphan.

Minister Astaphan’s resignation as Minister of National Security comes at a time when crime in the Federation is at a record breaking high with an 11% increase compared to the same period last year. Thirteen homicides have been committed for the year so far, illegal firearms are on the streets and the cane fields are becoming marijuana plantations. These are just a few of the crimes amongst others that are plaguing the Federation.

“I will continue, without distraction, to push for my constituents to go through their daily lives in peace and safety; to get jobs, land, homes, and entrepreneurial and social opportunities; to receive the best available education and health care; and to have their communities well taken care of in terms of public utilities, amenities, and services,” Mr. Astaphan pledged.

The Hon. Earl Assim Martin is the Acting Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour until someone is named to replace Minister Astaphan.