United Workers Party politicians, left to right: Baptiste, Isaac and Dr Fontaine
United Workers Party politicians, left to right: Baptiste, Isaac and Dr Fontaine

Following a lengthy emergency meeting, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) decided to maintain a hands-off approach to dealing with the turmoil in Venezuela.

Many of the world's leaders are at odds with who to identify as the country's president, as President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself president, while Nicolas Maduro still maintains that he is president.

"Heads of Government reiterated that the long-standing political crisis, which has been exacerbated by recent events, can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy," the CARICOM statement said.

Charles is new ambassador to United Arab Emirates

Hubert Charles, the former ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS) has been appointed Dominica's resident ambassador to United Arab Emirates, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.

"As Resident Ambassador to The United Arab Emirates, Ambassador Charles will work closely with the Ministry of Foreign & CARICOM Affairs to ensure effective implementation of Dominica's foreign policy while representing Dominica's interests as well as the interests of its nationals residing in the United Arab Emirates and neighboring countries," the ministry stated.

Dengue alert

Dominica's Ministry of Health has taken action to prevent an outbreak of dengue in Dominica, said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Johnson.

Earlier the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) warned of a possible outbreak of the virus in the Caribbean. Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin have reported increasing numbers of cases.

Thus the Ministry of Health is advising the public to destroy the breeding areas for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of the dengue virus.

Dr. Johnson said Dominica had dengue outbreaks in 2010 and 2013.

Ronald Charles sworn-in as new UWP senator

Attorney-at-law Ronald Charles was sworn in last week as the new opposition United Workers Party (UWP) senator, replacing Dr. Thompson Fontaine who was removed from that senatorial position because he missed three consecutive sittings of Parliament without the expressed authority of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

Charles is the UWP candidate for the Roseau Valley Constituency for the next election.

"Let me first of all thank the Almighty Yahweh for giving me the strength to be here and let me extend that strength to members of the House both from the government's side and opposition," said Charles as he was sworn in during the meeting of the House of Assembly last week.

"Because it takes a lot to be here and to be standing here to serve people. I continue to do so in my capacity."

After the swearing in, Speaker Alix Boyd-Knights said: "I recognize the fact that you are an Attorney at Law and I am really hoping that you can contribute to the understanding of the rules of the House and passing on this knowledge to your fellow members on your side of the House," she said. "I trust that you will observe the rules yourself."

Removing Dr. Fontaine from Parliament

During the meeting of parliament, Boyd-Knights said Fontaine was absent from the House without leave for the sittings of September 20, October 1 and December 12, 2019.

She added that Dr. Fontaine wrote three letters simply informing the Clerk that he would not be at those meetings.

"If you write somebody and tell them 'I am not coming', I don't think that you are even asking to be considered to be asking for leave. You are simply informing the Clerk that you will not be there," the Speaker said. Speaker Boyd-Knights said the rule governing leave of absence from meetings of Parliament is addressed in Standing Order 15: 1 and 2.

"Standing Order 15:1 says any member who is unable to attend the meeting of the House to which he has been summoned, shall acquaint the Clerk as early as possible of his inability to attend.

"Then 15:2 says if without leave or order of the Speaker previously obtained, any member is absent from three consecutive meetings of the House to which he has been separately summoned during the same session such member shall vacate his seat."

Fontaine, a former IMF economist has been appointed Senior Economic and International Policy Adviser to the government of South Sudan, Africa.

Meanwhile, the UWP has accused the Roosevelt Skerrit administration and the Speaker of double standards because Ivor Stephenson, the parliamentary representative for Grand Fond has been absent from meetings of Parliament since his stroke in 2016. Stephenson has been requesting leave of absence since then.