KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – An opposition senator here says that she learnt via radio on Friday that her appointment had been revoked.
Anesia Baptiste told I-Witness News that she was preparing for a scheduled appearance on a radio programme sponsored by her New Democratic Party (NDP) when party president, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace read on air a letter he had written to the Governor General asking that she be removed as a senator.
I-Witness News was unsuccessful in its attempts Friday afternoon to reach Eustace, who was said to be attending a funeral.
However, well-placed sources, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed that Eustace had asked the Governor General to revoke Baptiste’s appointment, “forthwith”.
“I found out via radio,” Baptiste told I-Witness News in an interview.
“The letter basically indicated that he (Eustace) had written to the Governor General asking him to revoke … my appointment forthwith,” said Baptiste, a national scholar.
She further stated that Eustace also indicated that he would comment further on Monday when he makes his weekly appearance on the NDP radio programme.
“I have taken a decision that I would await his further comments, as he promised, on Monday before I give any official response,” Baptiste said.
“Because he took a decision, informed the nation, and he indicated that he would give further comments. So I am waiting for that,” she said.
“So, that’s how I found out. As to whether or not I was informed, up to that point, I was neither informed, whether by call or any other form.”
Baptiste said she subsequently received two telephone calls from the Office of the Governor General indicating that a letter was sent to the NDP headquarters for her.
She said that the Opposition Leader’s secretary also informed her, via Facebook, that a letter was at the office. Baptiste, however, was yet to receive the letter at the time of the interview.
Nevertheless, Baptiste was convinced that her senatorial appointment had been revoked.
“I heard the Opposition Leader’s voice myself on radio this morning. Nobody told me this. I heard his call from start to finish and I understand the constitutional process,” she said, noting that constitutionally, senators are appointed or revoked based on the prerogative of the Prime Minister or Opposition Leader, respectively.
Baptiste, however, said that she would say that she does not know why her senatorial appointment was revoked.
“[Eustace] wrote to the Governor General about that decision and he had not indicated any reason as yet. So, as far as I am concerned, he (Eustace) has not given me any reason for a decision that he, and he alone, can take and has taken.
“And so, until he gives a reason, I am going to take it as having no reason why my revocation was done,” she said.
Asked “What was your relationship with the NDP like?” Baptise responded:
“I would not like to answer that question in light of what I have said to be my position currently, which is, I want to await his reason on Monday before I make any further comments.
“Lest anything I say to a question like that, which might sound very general, … be misconstrued in anyway and read into the current situation, I would prefer not to comment.
“Anything like that, I think I would answer at a later stage. I think it is the wise thing for me to do. I think it is proper to wait for the specific reasons. I think it is the wise and professional thing to do,” she said.
Baptiste, addressed to her “Colleagues and Supporters” a post on the social networking website Facebook on Friday.
“I know you will be concerned and want to know why. However, please be patient. Everything will come to light soon,” she wrote, adding, “I am forevermore the servant of the people”.
Baptiste, in a separate post on Facebook, said she thought it important, based on comments by the public, to indicate that “I did not decide that I no longer wish to be a senator.
“I have not decided to ‘move on’ or anything of that sort resulting in the revocation of my senatorial appointment. I think I need to make this VERY CLEAR,” she wrote.
Baptiste was instrumental in galvanising support for the NDP-led “Vote No” campaign against the proposed revisions to the Constitution that voters rejected in a referendum in November 2009.
She was then an employee at the Ministry of Tourism and the Public Service Commission slapped her with 16 charges for her role in that campaign and suspended her with half pay.
She later quit her job at the Ministry of Tourism.
Baptiste was appointed a senator when the NDP increased from four to seven the number of seats in Parliament after the December 2010 general election, the party’s third consecutive electoral defeat.
She had been identified as the NDP’s candidate for West St. George in the next general elections –constitutionally due in 2015.
The revocation of her appointment comes six months after Eustace defended at the NDP’s convention the appointment as opposition senators Baptiste and lawyer Vynnette Frederick.
Frederick lost to Tourism Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie in West St. George in the 2010 polls and has since said she no longer wants to contest general elections.
NDP chair Dr. Linton Lewis told a local newspaper that he was not consulted before the senators where appointments.
But Eustace told the 36th convention of the NDP in November that the party was doing things differently. “We have made some decisions which are new. We have appointed two young female senators to the Parliament. That is not an easy thing you know,” he said.
“In the context of our politics, in the context of what is being done to our womenfolk in this country, we are showing our confidence, not only in the young but [also] in the women of our party and that is why we appointed two young female senators,” Eustace further said.
Baptiste said she had not decided if she would continue to be a member of the NDP. She further stated that she had no immediate plans for the future that she would want to announce “outside of what I am currently doing.
“Suffice it to say that I would never stop being a servant of the people,” Baptiste said.