Antigua’s gov’t considers new governor general appointment

The Antigua & Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) is considering Dr. Rodney Williams for possible appointment as the next governor general of the island.

He is the son of the late Ernest Emmanuel Williams, who was one of the longest serving members of parliament in the history of Antigua & Barbuda. As a member of the Antigua Labor Party (ALP), the late MP was the representative of the constituency of St. Paul.

Dr. Williams entered politics after his father’s tragic death in l994 and represented St. Paul up to 2004. A specialist in sports medicine, he also served as the country’s minister of education.

He lost the seat to former United Progressive Party (UPP) MP, Eleston “Namba” Adams, in the 2004 general election.

The current governor general is Dame Louise Lake-Tack who was appointed in 2007 under the UPP administration.

Meanwhile, newly elected Prime Minister Gaston Browne is coming under fire for appointing MP Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin as attorney general.

Opposition UPP MP Joanne Massiah told a press conference last week that Benjamin has criminal matters pending in the magistrate’s court.

“Our alarm stems from the fact that we are all aware that the Honorable Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin has, for the better part of three years or so, used every opportunity to avoid facing the courts in respect of an issue involving an alleged passport fraud in which he was involved. We are concerned that in the face of what we consider to be a pending matter the honorable prime minister went ahead with his decision. I think it shows absolute lack of consideration for the people of Antigua & Barbuda,” Massiah said.

She said she views PM Browne’s actions as an exercise of “poor judgment.”

In addition to the Attorney General portfolio, Benjamin is also minister for Public Safety, Labor and Immigration.

PM Browne who has defended his decision in an interview with the Observer newspaper, said he was unconcerned about the criticisms regarding Benjamin’s appointment.

If there are any issues before the DPP and the police, they are independent,” he said adding, “It is not within my scope of authority to speak on that issue other than to tell you that the appointment I made is in keeping with the Constitution.”

Browne and Benjamin were sworn in their respective positions last week.

Benjamin was charged with fraud in 2008 after allegedly signing a photograph and passport application form for Jamaican Shane Anthony Allen who was purporting to be deceased Antiguan Tyrell Brann. The charge, which carries a penalty of up to two years in jail, was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2011.

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