Though, initially some, for political and other reasons, were skeptical about his appointment back in 1995, Sir Cuthbert has, over the years, proven to be quite a distinguished Head of State. He was actually sworn in on 1st January, 1996 and today is the world’s oldest de facto Head of State.
It was only late last year, close to the celebration of his 90th birthday, (22nd October, 2011), that many speculated that His Excellency was planning to demit office by the end of 2011; retiring to enjoy the rest of his years as a private citizen, after approximately sixteen years as Head of State for this twin-island Caribbean State.
However none of these rumours were ever substantiated, and as the evidence revealed, the good gentleman continued in office. However, new speculations have emerged and some un- official but very reliable sources are now indicating that the government has asked the Governor General to take a leave of absence, for a one year period.
However, when this information reached MiyVue.com on Tuesday, 17th January, 2012, calls were immediately made to verify the information. Our first request for information on the matter was via the Press Secretary of the Prime Minister, who indicated, though he was aware of the latest reports, he, at the time, had no information to substantiate what was being said. He however, indicated that some effort, later in the day, would be made to try to seek clarification, (information), from the Prime Minister.
Our next call was to the Office of the Governor General, and though we were unable to speak with a source who could address such matters, it was indicated that indeed the Governor General was on the job, attending to his usual official business.
Despite being on the job today, other credible sources have indicated that the Governor General was paid a visit on Monday 16th January, 2012, by the Prime Minister and it is believed that it was at this meeting, the request was made of Sir Cuthbert, to step aside for a year.
MiyVue.com however, has not been able to independently verify this claim. However, given the age of the Governor General, and if this information is correct, it would be very unlikely that he would return to the high office. Effectively therefore it would be a camouflaged dismissal that takes effect, at a date in the future.
Sources indicate that this has left the Governor General a sad and heartbroken man, especially given the manner in which the matter was handled. They claim that he feels like the “rug has been pulled from under him”.
If all this is true, it must be pointed out for the benefit of the public, that since the attainment of independence in 1983, every Governor and Governor General, (including Sir Probyn Inniss and (the late) Sir Clement Arrindell), and now Sebastian, would have left office in an atmosphere of controversy and disaffection. What this illustrates is our inability, to handle matters at the highest administrative levels, in a manner that is dignified, respectful and politically matured.
One columnist, who has recently written on the matter, of the one year leave of the Governor General, is former Labour Parliamentarian for Central Basseterre, Dwyer Astaphan, who served in various capacities, including Minister of Legal Affairs, Justice, National Security, Tourism, etc.
Writing in a Commentary on MiyVue.com on Tuesday, Astaphan said, “Sending off a 90-year old man on a year’s leave is tantamount to dismissal.” (See Commentary Section of MiyVue.com for full Astaphan article).
“The GG is in good shape medically as far as I’m aware, and his mind is sharp. Yes, he’s way beyond the standard retirement age, but I’m pretty sure that his age is not a criterion. If it was, a number of over 55-year old dead beats would also be sent home. Imagine how hurt and humiliated the GG must feel,” said the former Minister.
Ataphan charges that no prior warning was given to the Governor General.”Not even a discreet, respectful chat over lunch to discuss the matter and the future of the Governorship or to discuss matters generally that are upcoming on the GG’s timetable of duties and events, so that a dignified and well timed approach could be made to replacing him.”
Though various names have been speculated on, if true, no indication has been given, as to exactly who would be tipped to become the next Governor General.