Grenada PM defends cabinet reshuffle

Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas says his decision to re-shuffle his Cabinet should not be viewed as “an exercise in dictatorship or arbitrariness.”

In a nationwide radio and television address on Nov. 25, Thomas reminded his colleagues that they are in government to serve the people of Grenada.

“I believe that, as parliamentarians, we are called to be the servants of democracy,” he said.

“As cabinet ministers, we are all servants of the people. Those of us who have the privilege to play both roles have a responsibility to build democracy, not to test its strength or to weaken its foundation,” he added.

The incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration had faced an internal revolt last week after Thomas announced the Cabinet re-shuffle in which he also demoted Trade and Environment Minister Michael Church to a junior position.

Church has since resigned from the government, and the two other ministers, Peter David, the former foreign affairs minister, and Glynis Roberts, the former tourism minister, who were directly affected by the re-shuffle have since taken their oath of office.

The Grenadian leader said the second cabinet re-shuffle in a year since the NDC came to power in 2008 was designed “to better utilize their strengths, capacity, available resources and most importantly our rate of implementation.”

Thomas said that the duty of the members of government is to promote the welfare of the citizens and to protect the national interest, warning “we cannot fulfill these high ideals if we lack sincerity or if we lose sight of the true owners of power, the ordinary people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”

He said the recent events which surrounded his decision to re-shuffle the Cabinet have exposed grave misconceptions regarding the respective roles and responsibilities of the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers and the dangers that lie within such misconceptions.

“My decision to make changes to my cabinet is not an exercise in dictatorship or arbitrariness. It was not an ill-advised move to provoke political problems. And it certainly was not a scheme to squander and betray the trust of the people,” Thomas said.

“Throughout the recent period of suspense and suspicion, the message from you the people was decisively against conduct that was disrespectful, and selfish. The vast majority of our people stood in favor of stable government, respect for the office of the governor general, the office of the prime minister and dedication to the service of the nation,” he added.

The Grenadian prime minister said that the events reminded government members that they are not in office in order to advance their personal goals, whether political or financial.

“You reminded us that we promised good governance,” he said, adding that he stands in resolute obedience to the people.

“I will not let you down. A cabinet reshuffle may be due to numerous factors and considerations. On occasions, the prime minister may be desirous of broadening the experience base of the ministers. In other cases, the prime minister may be driven by the desire to achieve more effective performance. But this is not all that must be considered,” he said.

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