Senior Counsel and spokesman for Prime Minister Skerrit, Anthony Astaphan has said that a statement by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro about Dominica’s implementation of OAS of electoral reform recommendations, is dishonest.
Amalgro made the statement in a published response to CARICOM’s criticism of a tweet which he posted on Feb 7th in which he mentioned that former Dominican Ambassador to the UN, Crispin Gregoire was concerned that the upcoming general election in Dominica would not be free and fair.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Francine Baron subsequently wrote to Almagro, on behalf of the government, demanding that he withdraw the tweet and apologize. CARICOM also criticized the Secretary General’s tweet, describing it as “the latest manifestation of his [Almagro’s] inappropriate behaviour” that was “outside the bounds of his remit as the Head of an international organisation.”
However, Almagro has refused to back down insisting that his statements and actions “are completely consistent with the competencies of the Office of Secretary General and the democratic principles that this Organization promotes and defends.”
Astaphan, on the other hand, has said that he believes that the Secretary General’s release is dishonest for various reasons.
“It is dishonest for a number of reasons,” he said. “It is not a matter of coincidence as far as I am concerned, that the only member of the opposition that the Secretary General has met to date, has come from Dominica, one year or a year and a half after Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit stated at an OAS meeting that the Secretary General should be fired for the manner in which he [is] conducting himself as Secretary General of the OAS.”
Astaphan went on to say that one must bear in mind as well, that the government has received recommendations from other organizations including the Commonwealth and it is public knowledge that the Commonwealth has given technical assistance to the Electoral Commission.
“You can confirm that with the Chairman because that is public knowlege,” he remarked
Astaphan argued that according to the Harvard Kennedy School report cited by Almagro, countries show different implementation rates of the recommendation and gave as examples, Colombia (72%), Salvador (70%), Bolivia (60%), Venezuela (65%).
He continued, quoting from the report, “While in the Caribbean concretely St Kitts & Nevis, Antigua &Barbuda, Dominica and Bahamas, “the implementation rate does not reach 10 percent which may be due to the different legal and historical traditions as well as the different levels of regulations within those societies”
He contended that the misrepresentation by the Secretary of the OAS Secretary General is that he failed to mention St Kitts, Antigua and Bahamas.