PM Sacks Sam Condor as Minister of National Security

Citizens of St. Kitts & Nevis were shocked and surprised on Wednesday night, (31st August, 2011), when the announcement was made by Dr. Douglas, during a formal address to the nation, on state owned, ZIZ Radio & Television, at 8:00pm.

It was only four hours before at Warner Park and 2 hours prior at the Police Training Complex, that Mr. Condor was in the spotlight, delivering speeches to signal the appointment of a new Commissioner of Police, Mr. C.G. Walwyn, to replace Austin Williams, who served a 3 year stint at the helm of the law enforcement agency.

Both ceremonies helped to create some hope and high expectations that finally something was being done to fight the scourge of crime and violence that have been eating at the fabric of Kittitian/Nevisian society.

The Passing of the Baton, from Williams to Walwyn was embraced by citizens in attendance and the thousands who listened and viewed via radio, internet and television. They were inspired by the strong words of the incoming Commissioner and sympathetic to the stories and experiences, (professional and personal), shared by Austin Williams in his farewell address and final words as the top police officer.

However, no one in the public at the time was aware that Sam Condor was in fact also making his own farewell address to the police, the public and the nation at large. Perhaps he did…perhaps; but he if he did, he gave no such indication. If anything, he sounded like a National Security Minister who was re-energized and ready to continue the task for which he has been receiving much commendation, even from the Prime Minister.

Of all places, Condor also had been finding great support from the main opposition party, the People’s Action Movement.

Dr. Douglas too, in making the announcement that he was removing Mr. Condor from the portfolio, showered praise on him for his outstanding efforts in the Ministry of National Security.

Douglas said, “I am aware that the Ministry of National Security under the leadership of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Sam Condor has been working assiduously to combat crime and I am certain that many of the initiatives that have been introduced by the Deputy Prime Minister will bear fruit over time.”

Regardless of these efforts however, which the Prime Minister admitted have the potential to “bear fruit over time”, he said that to avoid the blame game, it is the Prime Minister who is ultimately responsible for law and order and the fight against crime, thus he took the decision to replace Condor and assume direct responsibility for the Police and Defence Force; the two key law enforcement agencies responsible for the protection of the ‘home land’ of St. Kitts & Nevis.

 

“Hence, to give effect to this new arrangement, His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, acting on my advice and in keeping with our Constitution, has assigned the subjects of Police and Defence Force to me. This would enable me to effectively carry out my duties as Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force and to provide policy directions in relation to the fight against crime. It would also give the Anti-Crime Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister the necessary authority to discharge its administrative functions in relation to the Police and Defence Force,” said Douglas in his address. 

 

What Douglas has done therefore, is to remove Condor as Minister of National Security, take over the police and army and create a new structure with two new entities.

 

“It is in this context that I have decided to establish a Ministerial Task Force that will be comprised of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the Minister of Works, and myself, as Chairman, to provide general oversight and policy guidance in relation to all crime fighting activities in our Federation. This Task Force will ensure that the security forces are provided the resources that they require to effectively fight crime, and will monitor the implementation of a comprehensive crime reduction plan that we intend to publish shortly. We expect that the new Commissioner will take the lead in formulating this plan which will consolidate all of the initiatives and plans that we have announced in recent times, take full account of the many views and opinions expressed by our people through various media, and bring on board many of the Commissioner’s own ideas and strategies, based on his vast experience and outstanding credentials as a Law Enforcement Officer in the United States of America,” outlined the Prime Minister.

He continued, “This plan will identify clear and concrete objectives and targets, timelines for each planned activity, the person or entity responsible for the implementation of each activity, and critical milestones and indicators of success in the implementation of the plan. This would allow me, as Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force, to report to the public at least quarterly in very clear and precise terms, as to the progress being made in implementing the plan and in combating crime and violence generally.”

Douglas assured that the Task Force will also liaise with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Crime and Violence, which establishment was recently announced by the Minister of National Security, and will seek to ensure that all plans and initiatives in relation to crime are subjected meaningful bipartisan consultations and supported by appropriate legislation in Parliament. “As Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force on Crime, I will keep the Parliamentary Select Committee updated on a regular basis on the progress that we are making in respect of the fight against crime and take full account of their views and comments in relation to the fight against crime and violence,” promised the PM.

In terms of the other entity to be established, Douglas explained that “To ensure that the fight against crime is given maximum support at the highest level of Government I also propose to establish a Special Anti-Crime Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister that would provide administrative and secretarial support to the Ministerial Task Force, monitor the implementation of the crime plan, coordinate the activities of the various law enforcement agencies, and provide an effective administrative interface between the policymakers and the security forces. This Unit would be headed by a Permanent Secretary who would be assigned specifically to the management of the Anti-Crime Unit and would be responsible for the discharge of administrative functions in relation to the Police and the Defence Force.”

 

It is important for readers to know that that is precisely the mandate that is assigned to the Ministry of National Security, its Permanent Secretary and staff. It would therefore be important to learn if the Ministry is therefore being replaced by the Special Anti-Crime Unit, in the Office of the Prime Minister. It would be an “impossible pie” for both to operate.

Though the Prime Minister said the Anti-Crime Unit would be headed by ‘a’ Permanent Secretary, no mention was made of Mrs. Astona Browne, who served as Permanent Secretary in the now defunct Ministry of National Security.

There have been calls by various business organizations and some members of the public to have her replaced, but the Prime Minister had always refused to acquiesce. Sam Condor himself, has been known to request her removal but with no success. Political observers and callers to local talk radio always stated that the Prime Minister would prefer to remove Condor as the Minister than to sack PS Browne. It seems the pundits and public were correct all along.

So what becomes of Deputy Prime Minister and now former National Security Minister, Sam Condor? This is a question asked by one resident of “The Village” community on local radio.

“It is intended that the Hon. Sam Condor, our Deputy Prime Minister, will continue to hold all of his other portfolios in a restructured Ministry, restyled the Ministry of Home Land Security, Foreign Affairs, Labour and Social Security. The Department of Home Land Security will include Immigration, Passports, Prisons, Fire & Rescue Services, and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). He will also continue to play a major role in the fight against crime through his involvement in the Ministerial Task Force. Hence, he would be able to provide help in carrying forward many of the crime fighting activities and programmes that he initiated. Indeed, the Government and the entire nation owes the Hon Sam Condor a great debt of gratitude for his hard work in the fight against crime to date, and for the devotion and commitment that he displays in the discharge of his mandate as Minister of National Security, “said Condor.

As one other caller stated, “It is critical to point out that Mr. Condor is now to lead a Ministry of Home Land Security, but has no security forces under his command.”

 

Another key point, added another caller, has to do with the fact that Condor is responsible for Immigration, which is currently a function of the police. The police Commissioner is also the Chief Immigration Officer. Therefore, from whom does he take direction, the Prime Minister, the Ministerial Task Force, Special Anti-Crime Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, or the Minister of Home Land Security?

 

Though the matters of security and crime are serious ones, members of the public have been jokingly stating that St. Christopher is truly a unique place because it has now become the only country in the world to have four ‘Ministers of National Security at the same time, (Deputy Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the Minister of Works, and PM Douglas,). They were referring to the Ministerial Task Force that is to be headed by Dr. Douglas.

 

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