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One on one, on Grenada's Commission of Inquiry

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By Milton Coy

St. George's Grenada: As the issue of the Inquiry picks up momentum here quite a number of nationals are expressing concern about the process.
Former Caribbean specialist at the BBC, Stanley Charles  believes that this Commission of Inquiry is yet another issue that reveals who really are as a people trying recover from the inherited problems of the past.

Question: What is the significance of this Commission of Inquiry:

Answer: It is a splendid piece of political theatre.

Question: Is it merely political or is it an opportunity for the people of Grenada to remove any cloud over their heads as a result of the allegations anainst the Prime Minister.

Answer: The Chinese at one stage in their development used to refer to some countries as paper tigers. To understand the value of the Inquiry, one must understand our history. Our linkage to Britain and the concept of the Governor General (GG), who is a representative of the Queen. It would be extremely difficult to concieve that the British Queen can make certain statement without Number 10  having an imput. In law and in fact, the Governor General set up the Inquiry, but under our constitution the terms and reference of the Inquiry cannot have its origin in any other place but the Prime Minister's office.

Question: Are you saying that the Prime Minister is presiding over his own Inquiry?

Answer: Look closely at our constitution and understands how it works. Who is the GG in Council?

Question: If it is the Prime Minister, is this Inquiry genuine or just a political grandstanding to demonstrate the unlimited power of the holder of that office?

Answer: Again I draw your attention to how these Inquiries work. The Inquiry cannot determine gilt. It not a court of law. It cannot find anyone guilty. What would happen in a country with an informed public opinion, the Inquiry finding can damage or halt the career of the politicians in questions. I will give two references: The effect on the British labour party over public disquiet into specific allegations leveled in the direction of Tony Blair. Then look at canada, it is a public inquiry which led to the liberal party having a minority government and as a result of what they called the sponsorship scandal, they are more than likely to be going to the polls by the end of the year. Our own historical reference - Sir Eric Gairy was the center of a public inquiry - the Duffus Commission, most would agree the findings was historic and damaging. Did it affect sir Eric's popularity? Did it impact his government? History speaks for itself.

Question: In your opinion as someone who have been involved with public officials at all levels, do you think that the PM should have taken leave from office until the inquiry is complete?

Answer: The Prime Minister is perhaps the only politician in Grenada and while it may have been a misstep to bow to a public inquiry, there is not history of political accountability in Grenada. I see not reason why he should give up his office.

Question: But is that the norm as  far as int. std is concerned?

Answer: Grenada is one of the few countries in the world where the government own a non government org. Abortion is illegal but it is widely available on demand. Grenadians are fiercely anti homophobic yet they know all who are having same sex relationships. There is a free press in Grenada but just write something the government perceived to be anti it and see how free you are. I don't know what norm is in the grenada context.

Question: Now that the Inquiry has stated in earnest, what should be the public interest in this most damaging allegations be?

Answer: I don't agree that it is damaging and the public interest  is to have a laugh. And one must remember who we are. The people who are interested in the inquiry, all have 2 or 3 layers  of clothes. They have suit and wear a tie in the middle of the hot sun.

Question: What do you think then is purpose for the Inquiry?

Answer: It is for international consumption. Remember these allegations which are now getting a public hearing had a health warning. Journalists were threatened. They will be sued. The full force of the law will be used against them if they publish. Now any blogger can put the full text on the internet.

Question: Where does the Prime Minister goes from here?

Answer: He has obviously found himself in a political culdesack (one way street). One should bear in mind if someone should turn up with a video with this infamous brief case full of money, nothing will be proven.

Question: Why?

Answer: How do we know is not counterfeit money? How do we know it is money at all. and you know what the average Grenadian man would say. He would say, the man damn right. IHe should have asked for more. In Grenada we enjoy living in denial.

Question: So finally Mr. Charles, Aren't you in sympathy with the grenadian public having to bear the burden (economically and otherwise) at this time of struggling to recover from hurricane Ivan?

Answer: The Grenadian public should be aware of the Worrel report. The unaccounted missing Bandarante, an aslyum seeker allegdging rape by a senior politician in Grenada. No one, unless they have been living in the moon or somewhere, should be unaware about the scandal of the offsore failed banking sector in Grenada. Grenada lives in a sea of allegations and they all point to politicians being unable to account  for public money.
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