Opposition MP Rodney Charles claims that the government has less than five percent of ambassadors and high commissioners who are career diplomats.
He added that the government must uphold its general election manifesto of not giving jobs to party hacks. Charles quoted the PNM’s manifesto as stating, “postings to our embassies and consulates should not be seen as a mere reward for supporters of the party in government, but must be the front line of protecting the interests of TT internationally.”
Charles said Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young will never answer questions about the appointment of Makeda Antoine as Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Young is yet to disprove convincingly, Charles said, that Antoine’s appointment has been made on the basis other than political consideration.
No one is against political appointments in the diplomatic service, Charles said, but there must exist a balance between the number of political appointees and career diplomats. “All countries have a delicate mix of career diplomats and political appointees. We do not,” he claimed.
Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, he said, had at her disposal career diplomats including Anthony Edghill in Venezuela, Eden Charles in New York and locally-based ambassadors Dennis Francis and Gerald Thompson...collectively over 70 years in the foreign service. Others included Chandradath Singh in India and Patrick Edwards in Uganda, each with many decades of foreign policy experience.
He questioned the equivalence of foreign policy expertise in the PNM configuration of diplomats.
“This is a simple question which of course Minister Young will dance around but never answer,” he said.