By Lesroy W. Williams
(Frigate Bay, St .Kitts) – A trio of Caribbean political leaders met this week in St. Kitts to discuss recent developments concerning cooperation and the future of the region.
Two other heads of government met with Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis about a recently signed declaration between leaders of four CARICOM countries to establish a political union.
Trinidad and Tobago PM Patrick Manning and Grenada PM Tillman Thomas met with Prime Minister Denzil Douglas and his delegation in the Montserrat Room of the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino on August 20 to hold talks and to discuss the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the four CARICOM countries that signed the joint declaration for their political union and the rest Member States of Caricom.
Prime Minister Douglas’ delegation included the Attorney General, the Hon. Dennis Merchant, Chief Secretary, Mr. Joseph Edmeade, Deputy Premier of Nevis, the Hon. Hensley Daniel, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Astona Browne, St.Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to CARICOM, the OECS and the ACS, His Excellency Mr. Wendell Lawrence and Cabinet Secretary in the Nevis Island Administration, Mr. Ashley Farrell.
PM Manning, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Hon. Stephenson King, Prime Minister of St. Lucia and PM Thomas at a recently held a mini-summit in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. At the summit they signed a joint declaration to establish a framework for closer cooperation towards the achievement of the single economy by 2011 and appropriate political integration by 2013.
The four signatories to the joint declaration of their political union have given the assurance that it will not undermine the Caricom Single Market and Economy, but will accelerate it.
PM Tillman, who is Chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States recently concluded a meeting in Dominica with Acting Prime Minister, Ambrose George in the absence of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt who is attending the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
At that meeting, Manning said that Caricom States must integrate or disintegrate. He further stated that Heads of Caricom States recognize this integration as crucial to their survival. He pointed out that the West Indies Federation of 1958 failed because it lacked “political will”.
“We have a number of Prime Ministers in office in the Caribbean now—who against the background of their experiences over the many years and experiences elsewhere in the world— have all come to the conclusion that either we integrate or we disintegrate,” Manning said in Dominica.
The Acting Prime Minister of Dominica, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, said that his Government will take a final decision on whether to sign and ratify the Memorandum of Understanding to the establishment of a new economic and political union.
Prime Minister Douglas at the meeting held with the visiting Prime Minister’s Manning and Tillman on August 20, said that he will have to take the matter to his Cabinet so that the appropriate documents can be circulated and studied before being ratified. He said that there is a process to be followed which will also include consultation with the society before their can be a full endorsement of the Memorandum of Understanding that Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Lucia are trying to sell to the other Members States of Caricom about their recently signed joint declaration of a political union between the four countries.
“The Government is the servant of the people and we must ensure that we understand it (Memorandum of Understanding) ourselves,” Dr. Douglas said.
Manning and Tillman left St. Kitts on the same day to visit Antigua for talks with Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and after Antigua they will travel to Montserrat to hold talks with Chief Minister Dr. Lowell Lewis to discuss the initiatives agreed upon at the mini-summit in Trinidad and Tobago.