DFP labels PM Skerrit’s statement on Syria diplomatic relations as “another deceptive and dishonest act”

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DPF Interim Political Leader Bernard Hurtault
Political Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) Bernard Hurtault

PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE DOMINICA FREEDOM PARTY (DFP)

The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) views the statement of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Friday, March 18, 2022, regarding the signing and establishing of Diplomatic Relations between the Commonwealth of Dominica and the Republic of Syria as another deceptive and dishonest act.

The many inconsistencies in the Prime Minister’s press statement made clear either he is engaging in a massive cover-up, or the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been recklessly derelict in his duty. It stretches credulity to ask the Dominican public to believe that the Foreign Affairs Minister had the gall or incompetence to wait over a year to inform the Prime Minister of Syria’s request to establish diplomatic relations with Dominica. And further that Ambassador Lorraine Bennis – Roberts had the audacity (stupidity?) to move ahead to sign this agreement in the middle of one of the worst acts of aggression by Russia the foremost ally of Syria.

The account that is given by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of this outrageous diplomatic faux pass simply furnishes evidence of the lack of foresight, disunity, and dereliction of duty by a disempowered and disinterested cabinet.

Such apparent dishonesty or professional incompetence in governance is outrageous and unforgivable. The Prime Minister’s statements and flimsy explanations show a willful and total disrespect for the citizens of Dominica. Our beloved country is groaning from the pain and embarrassment caused by this Labour Party administration.

How irresponsible and dishonest is the Prime Minister for implying that he was surprised when he learned of the signing of the agreement by Ambassador Lorraine Bennis – Roberts. And that he had then summoned her to Dominica for an urgent meeting with him and other government officials on Thursday, March 17, 2022. We note that the establishment of diplomatic relations between states, and of permanent diplomatic missions, takes place by mutual consent. Additionally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plays a critical role in this process by advising and informing the cabinet on such matters. Clearly, such diplomatic relations could not have taken place without the prior knowledge, consultation, and advice of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and or the Prime Minister.

This diplomatic faux pas is so great that one must speculate that the counterbalancing payoff must be greater indeed – for someone. Could it be that Russia plans to use Dominica, via Syria, to bypass international sanctions? Were the promises of Russian oligarchs so great as to have led to temporary insanity? That the Prime Minister let slip during his comments that he did indeed have an interest in Syria CBI initiatives only deepened these suspicions.

It is noteworthy that three (3) days prior to the signing of the agreement on March 7, 2022, a letter signed by Mr Emmanuel Nathan Coordinator of the CBI programme, dated March 4, 2022, advised of suspension of applications from Russian and Belarusian nationals. Note that this letter came about only following many calls from Dominicans at home and abroad urging the Skerrit led administration to stand with the international community and end diplomatic and other relations with Russia – including halting of the CBI programme. The Syrian agreement may well have provided an alternative path to passports for these nationals. Coincidence?

Further, the DFP views the comment of the Prime Minister declaring that the signed agreement would be suspended indefinitely as mere confusion due to limited knowledge of Foreign/ diplomatic Relations. We, therefore, call on Prime Minister Skerrit to take the appropriate steps to have this agreement rescinded and properly settled. This is a pressing matter given the Syrian government’s track record of human rights abuses.

Given the severity of this misstep, the regional and international embarrassment, and the potential economic fallout, we question the competence of this Labour Party-led government to continue to administer this country. We also call for the immediate resignation or dismissal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Kenneth Darroux.

Bernard Hurtault

Political Leader

DOMINICA FREEDOM PARTY

1767 285 – 3698 / 1(469) 586 – 9497  

March 24, 2022