Reuben Meade, opposition leader of Montserrat, who was elected chairman of the meeting, stated that the discussions were very informative and engaging. He added that this meeting has inspired the group to continue to meet more regularly via virtual means.
The OECS parliamentary opposition leaders discussed an overview of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre and an update on the Economic Union, including the seamless movement of persons and free circulation of goods and services.
Antigua and Barbuda’s opposition leader, Baldwin Spencer, said that the updates received from the OECS Commission in its numerous areas of work such as health and youth development have empowered and motivated the opposition leaders even further to tell their constituents more about the significance of the OECS Economic Union to the region’s human resource development.
The strengthening of relationships with Martinique following its agreement for accession to associate membership of the OECS, the OECS Development Strategy, the Work Programme of the Councils of Ministers in areas such as human and social development, environment, education, trade, agriculture, tourism as well as climate change were also discussed.
Grenada’s prime minister and chairman of the OECS Authority Dr Keith Mitchell welcomed the meeting and indicated that it “underscores the commitment of colleague heads to a process of inclusion in governance, of every citizen of OECS society.”
The OECS opposition leaders, who were joined by colleague Lennox Linton in Dominica via video conference facility, got a moving update on the trauma, resilience in the island and global support received, as that country continues resolutely to confront the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erica. The meeting pledged further assistance for the people of the storm-ravaged island.
Both the government and the parliamentary opposition in Dominica were complimented by Mitchell and OECS director general, Dr Didacus Jules, in their opening remarks for their united resolve exemplified in the establishment of the National Reconstruction Advisory Council that comprises all elected members of Parliament.
Dr Gale Rigobert, parliamentary opposition leader in Saint Lucia, endorsed Wednesday’s meeting as “a step in the right direction, in recognizing the critical role of the opposition in the governance of our regional democracies.”
Rigobert applauded the OECS Commission for its efforts at inclusive governance and for attempting to correct what she called “the historically disturbing trend of excluding opposition parties from governance – both at the national and regional levels.”
Palmavon Webster, opposition leader in Anguilla, and Nazim Burke, leader of the opposition in Grenada also attended the meeting.
This was the first meeting of leaders of the parliamentary opposition in the OECS for Jules. The OECS director general described the value of the parliamentary opposition as “a sacred constitutional construct designed to ensure that democracy is safeguarded not simply by the assertion of the will of the majority but by the guarantee of the voices of the minority.”