TAIPEI, Taiwan: Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced several personnel changes in his administration “in keeping with the process of renewal and further energising of governance”.
SVG is preparing for general elections this year, when the Unity Labour Party (ULP) will seek a third consecutive term in office.
The elections come on the heels of a failed constitution referendum in November, which commentators said was a rejection of the Gonsalves administration.
One day after the referendum vote, Gonsalves told citizens he and his party “[got] the message” and would renew themselves before the next general elections.
Effective Friday, Jan. 15, Sen. Julian Francis, Minister of Housing, Lands, Informal Human Settlements and Local Government, and the Hon. Conrad Sayers, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister will demit their respective offices.
Sen. Francis will retain his Senate seat but will “focus full-time on his calling as General Secretary of the ULP”, Dr. Gonsalves said.
Hon. Saboto Caesar will take up Sen. Francis’ ministerial portfolio. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
The lawyer, who is likely to contest the general elections on a ULP ticket, is being promoted from a Minister of State to a full Minister.
Although Sayers won a seat in the March 2001 and December 2005 general elections and is the representative for the Central Kingstown constituency, he was never assigned a ministry.
He was appointed to the office of Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade in March 2001, and in February 2003 was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office as Minister of State.
Sen. Francis has failed in both attempts to wrestle the East Kingstown parliamentary seat from opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) leader, Hon. Arnhim Eustace.
Francis, who has been the ULP general secretary since 1994, was also the party’s campaign manager in the 1998, 2001, and 2005 General Elections.
In April 2001, he was appointed as a senator with ministerial responsibility for Transport, Works and Housing and is the ULP’s caretaker for the East Kingstown constituency
Sen. Ceasar, 29, will be the youngest full Minister in the Cabinet.
In the Senate, Sen. Richard Williams will make way for the appointment of Michelle Fife as a senator.
Fife, who like Williams is a lawyer, is a former Miss SVG beauty queen. She will become the Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“I thank Conrad Sayers, Julian Francis and Richard Williams for their immense contribution to our nation’s development and welfare. I congratulate Saboto Caesar on his most deserving promotion,” Dr. Gonsalves said in making the announcements.
He also announced that in early March, Sen. Rochelle Forde would demit the offices of Senator and Deputy Speaker.
Hon. Conrad Sayers will then be proposed to the House of Assembly to be elected as Deputy Speaker.
Dr. Gonsalves said that a senatorial replacement would be formally named at that time and will be appointed to a position in the Government.
“That person has already been identified and has agreed to serve but has requested some time to wind-down certain business operations,” he said.