Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell says that the Ralph Gonsalves government should recall both of its diplomats embroiled in a domestic violence scandal in the United States.
News broke on Friday that Xandra Marshall, deputy consul general, at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consulate in New York had called the city police department after her husband, Sehon Marshall, a counsellor at SVG’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, punched her in the mouth.
Gonsalves announced on Star FM on Monday that his government had recalled Mr. Marshall “for consultations” and had instructed that he and his wife not report for work until further notice.
Speaking on Boom FM Monday morning, Sir James said that the diplomats have damaged the nation’s reputation and would call into question the process through which they were appointed.
“Both of these people in New York should be recalled because it does not just stop there. Their analysis of this exercise will go also to the method of his appointment and his selection and what were the criteria that were used to select him,” the retired politician said.
“And judgement is not only going to be passed upon him. Judgement is going to be passed on the method of selection and what are the criteria for selecting such people.”
Sir James, who was prime minister from 1984 to 2000, said that his administration never had any incidents with any of their diplomats.
He said the only diplomatic incident under his watch was when a ship flying the Vincentian flag was trying to extort further payment from the Canadian government for services provided.
Sir James said that his government informed the owner of the ship that a dispute over contract should be settled in court and if the ship does not agree to complete the services for the Canadian government on the agreed terms, Kingstown would deregister the vessel.
The former prime minister was, however, of the view that Gonsalves is capable of deciding what to do and when to do it.
“I would’ve cleared the deck already. I would’ve told the guy, ‘Listen, either you resign and come home and let us look for something else for you to do, or, in any event, a week is not going to pass with you up there. You better get ready to pack your bags’,” Sir James said.
“Prime Minister Gonsalves would find himself being judged, first of all, ‘what were the criteria on which he made this appointment?’ and he would also be judged on what decisions he takes and not only what he takes but how long he takes to do it.”
The former prime minister said that while people would remember the incident, it would not affect SVG’s relationship with the United Nations.
“It would seem that we are a country with wife-beaters to the extent that we have to legislate to stop wife-beating and we have sent a wife-beater to the United Nations.”
Sir James went further than his New Democratic Party, which on Saturday called for the recall of Mr. Marshall.
This is the second time that Mr. Marshall has been the centre of controversy, having made insulting remarks about some Vincentians in the United States in August 2014, even as he was being considered for the post of Deputy Consul General.
He later apologised for saying that some Vincentians had been dog walkers in the United States and was thereafter appointed to the post in November 2014.
Mr. Marshall was transferred to the United Nations last August, and his wife was appointed earlier this month to replace him at the Consulate.