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Well-placed sources tell iWitness News that Benarva Browne, left, will replace Julian Francis as government senator.
Well-placed sources tell iWitness News that Benarva Browne, left, will replace Julian Francis as government senator.
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A new senator will be sworn in at 11 a.m. today, replacing Julian Francis, 71, who has been ill for over a year, after suffering a stroke. 

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement on NBC Radio today (Wednesday) but did not name the new senator, who he said he has known since she was attending “Auntie Kirby pre-school in Edinboro”.

Well placed sources have told iWitness News that the new senator is Benarva Browne, whose LinkedIn profile says she is a development consultant who has practiced in St. Vincent and the OECS region for almost seven years. 

Browne holds a master’s degree in town and country planning (MPLAN) from the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, located in the United Kingdom (UK).

Informed sources further told iWitness News that Browne outperformed another hopeful in a poll that the ruling Unity Labour Party conducted in South Leeward, regarding its candidate in the next general elections.

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Francis had attended only two meetings of Parliament since he suffered a stroke on July 24, 2022.

“Julian Francis demitted office yesterday formally with effect last night –  demitted office as senator and minister. And a young 33-year-old professional woman will be sworn in today as senator and as minister of urban development, sea ports, seaports administration, Grenadines affairs and local government,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister had first hinted at the changes in his government last Thursday at the official opening of the temporary parliament building on the south coast town of Calliaqua. 

Francis had been a senator since April 2001 and Gonsalves said he  would take up Francis’ airport development and administration portfolios.

“So there will be another reconfiguration of my portfolio,” the prime minister said, adding that the senator would be sworn in to office at Government House and would take the other requisite oaths when lawmakers meet for the first time at the new temporary Parliament building in Calliaqua. 

Gonsalves said that Francis — who is general secretary of the ruling Unity Labour Party — will be formally appointed as special advisor to the government, effective today. 

“So we will have the benefit of his knowledge and expertise,” Gonsalves said.

He said that Francis’ health has improved in the year since he suffered the stroke. 

“But he will do less intensive, more specialised work than the parliamentary and ministerial work — less physically demanding,” Gonsalves said of his 71-year-old first cousin.  

“He is quite there with his mental faculties and I am pleased to see his improvement,” the prime minister said. 

He noted that he had announced last Thursday a new configuration of the government. 

“And you may well see more. But this is certainly phase one. So that we are going to have two young women, one of them 35 and one of them 33, who is a specialist in the field of urban development and urban planning. She would be another young woman in the Cabinet and other young persons, including young women would be entering governmental work.”

Kensal Peter, minister of foreign affairs, is the 35-year-old woman in the Cabinet. 

“As you know, the education revolution has produced some real outstanding talent and the Good Lord has given me the opportunity as expressed through the will of the people to be around for a long time to be able to guide not only the generation below me —   that is to say the generation of Camillo (Gonsalves) and Saboto (Caesar) and Carlos (James) and Orando (Brewster)  also — but to guide those of a generation below that,” Gonsalves said, referring to his ministers of finance, agriculture, tourism and national mobilisation, respectively. 

“It is a wonderful thing,” said Gonsalves, who turns 78 on Aug. 8 and will seek a sixth consecutive term in office in general elections Constitutionally due by February 2026.

“Not many countries have been so blessed and part of it is the gift of God, as expressed through the will of the people that the good Lord wants to see somebody around for a long time being about to make these changes and to help to transform this country and to have a refreshing of ideas and a refreshing of personnel but mixed with experienced leadership and wisdom.”

He said that the government will soon go through the process of reconfiguring the membership of boards of directors of state entities, during which the public will also see some reconfiguration.

Gonsalves said that in the reconfiguration, the public will see an incorporation of “children of the education revolution, who are in the generation above and under — mixture of older professionals and people who have contributed immensely and young people”.

Sources have told iWitness News that the Carnival Development Corporation is one of the state entities whose board had been fingered for a shake-up. 

Political observers have also said that senators Ashelle Morgan and Rochard Karim “Pitbulll” Ballah could be leaving the senator as the government begins its preparations for general elections, which one commentator has said might come sooner than many people expect. 

3 replies on “Woman, 33, to replace Francis as senator, minister”

  1. New ppl, new pockets. A circle has no end, just a reminder vincentians. Don’t b fool by new faces and swelling words of deception. We’ve at that one place too long. Wise up.

  2. Stupes… you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time…

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