By Toni Frederick
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Former deputy prime minister Sam Condor is concerned that recent scandals surrounding St Kitts and Nevis citizenship and diplomatic passports are threatening not just the image of the country, but the integrity of the federation’s passports.
“All these things are really now affecting our citizens; affecting the image of our country. I mean that is what is at stake,” Condor said.
Questions about the diplomatic status of now infamous oncologist Dr Arthur Porter, wanted in Canada on fraud and money laundering charges, and Iranian Alizeera Moghadham, a special envoy for St Kitts and Nevis, have yet to be fully addressed by government.
Condor, who has previously served as minister of foreign affairs, told WINN FM that the procedure for appointing ambassadors, general counsels and special envoys is not being followed.
“The appointment is being made after consultation in Cabinet coming from the ministry of foreign affairs and the process has been done in the ministry, all the due diligence has been done all the investigation, all the research; Cabinet submission is being made presented by the minister of foreign affairs to the Cabinet and once Cabinet approves then the appointment is done by the prime minister. That is the normal process,” Condor explained.
He said this procedure should be followed for all diplomatic appointments but recently most diplomatic appointments are being done by the prime minister’s office.
“That is not the correct procedure and protocol,” Condor said.
There are still unanswered questions about Dr Arthur Porter, who was approved by St Kitts and Nevis to serve as its consul general to The Bahamas, but whose appointment, Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas has said was never confirmed by the Bahamian government.
Porter, who gained St Kitts and Nevis citizenship through its citizenship by investment programme, was arrested in Panama last year, where he remains in jail awaiting extradition to Canada. Some Canadian media sources have reported that he was travelling on a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport, while others say it was a diplomatic passport of his home country of Sierra Leone. The Toronto Star reported that a Sierra Leone representative in Ottawa denied that that report had any merit.
Condor, who resigned as a member of Cabinet in January of last year, said he is not aware that Porter was given a diplomatic passport, only confirming that his appointment as consul general was never finalized. The former deputy prime minister said the Canadian government had raised concerns with the OECS countries about the way things were being done and believes this is the reason for visa free access to Canada for most of the Eastern Caribbean countries being withdrawn.
He maintains, however, that lax procedures generally spell more trouble on the horizon for St Kitts and Nevis.
Meanwhile, the government has never said whether the diplomatic status of Alizeera Moghadham was revoked after reports surfaced last year that he had been stopped by Canadian authorities while travelling on his St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic status and had told officials that he had a meeting with that country's prime minister.
After news broke of the incident, Douglas acknowledged that the Iranian national was indeed a holder of a diplomatic passport. He said that on the recommendation of the High Commissioner in London, Moghadham had been appointed a special envoy for St Kitts and Nevis to Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network