Arrest should serve as warning, says St Kitts-Nevis foreign minister

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Former United Nations General Assembly President Dr John Ashe (left) and St Kitts and Nevis Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley

By Ken Richards

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — The arrest of former Antiguan ambassador John Ashe in the United States should serve as a warning to others, according to St Kitts and Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Brantley.

US authorities earlier this month charged the former United Nations General Assembly president with taking bribes from a Chinese billionaire.

Ashe is accused of taking $1.3 million, spending the cash on luxury goods.

Brantley says diplomats as well as politicians should take note.

"It is a warning to all of us, diplomats, politicians and others, that we are to conduct matters in accordance with the law in a fair and transparent manner, and I feel that, if there is any lesson to be learned from this, it is that all of us need to be careful and cautious and ensure that at all times we scrupulously adhere to the best practices, and conduct ourselves in accordance with the law," Brantley told WINN.

The Ashe situation continues to attract comments.

Political advisor Dr Isaac Newton says Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne was too quick to throw Ashe “under the bus”, especially since the former diplomat has not yet been convicted of wrongdoing.

Newton, who is a former ambassador as well, described Browne’s actions as "unfortunate."

He charged that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) has had a long history of corruption allegations, and if he applied the same practice to the party, there are people who he would have to distance himself from too.

Brantley says he hopes the Ashe matter will be resolved in accordance with the law.

"I do not know… the particulars of this matter, but it is my hope that the matter however, will be resolved in accordance with the law there, and I hope that that is a signal to all of us. You mentioned diplomats but really it is not just diplomats, it is all of us involved in public life, need to take note and conduct ourselves accordingly,” he noted.

Speaking about diplomatic initiatives in the Federation, Brantley says as foreign affairs minister, he is satisfied with the state of the Federation’s diplomacy.

"I think we have a cadre of very committed and very talented diplomats throughout the world and that in the theatres in which we operate we are respected that our word is our bond and that our partners recognize that now, that the misgivings and the mistrust that might have existed, that has dissipated and we’ve worked really hard… to recalibrate those relationships," he said.

"I’m very happy that the people that we have in position, they’ve very talented… and they bring great value to the table, and so even though I’m charged for the moment as minister of foreign affairs, it is really the diplomatic corps that carries the burden… the bottom line is that we have competent and qualified career people in those positions who are supporting our diplomats… and doing a wonderful job,” he said.

Brantley holds the foreign affairs portfolio in the federal government, is also the deputy premier of Nevis and also holds Cabinet positions in the Nevis Island Administration.

Republished with permission of West Indies News Network

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