Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has admitted that he was instrumental in firing embattled Executive member, Terry Forrester’s from two state-owned boards – the National Water & Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) and the Financial Complex.
Dr. Mitchell made the disclosure Tuesday at a press conference at the Ministerial Complex in which he broke his silence on the Forrester issue.
The Prime Minister told the media that Forrester fell out of grace with the ruling New National Party (NNP) after publicly deciding to go against the decision of the National Executive to select Health Minister, Nickolas Steele as Caretaker for the South St. George Constituency.
Forrester reportedly approached PM Mitchell for his name to be put forward as a possible candidate and it was rejected outright.
The long-standing party member felt that there should be a run-off for the seat and that Steele should not have been handpicked by the Executive.
“I have asked for DEMOCRACY, fair play and respect for each other to be the honoured within the NNP and that Dictatorship should not be the order of the day. I have made it clear that the so-called democracy practiced in Carriacou be allowed in the South”, Forester told a close aide.
This is an obvious reference to the manner in which a replacement was found for the seat on the sister isle to replace outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod.
The party eventually choose female attorney-at-law, Kindra Maturine-Stewart over two other contenders – Senators Simon Stiell and Sen. Nolan Cox.
Prime Minister Mitchell accused Forrester of not being pleased when the party’s decided to go with Steele as the Caretaker in the south and taking the decision that would run independently of the party.
He said that Forrester’s firing was inevitable as he went out of his way to “challenge the organisation that he supports – supposedly supports”.
“He (Forrester) is a policy maker as Chairman of boards, that’s what he is; he is expected to implement the policies of the government but he decides that he does not want anything to do with the government’s decision, with the party’s decision…if that’s the case how do you expect to continue?
“…I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that Terry was not moved, I wouldn’t do that – one thing you know about me I would tell you the truth. I was part of that decision and I don’t think, in fact, I believe the minute he took that position, that he would oppose the party and telling everybody he would run as (an) independent…the minute he did that, the nicest thing was to tender his resignation. He should not wait to be moved but let me tell you this I have nothing against Terry personally, in fact I feel sorry for him…”.
The Prime Minister’s version of events conflicts with that given 12 hours earlier by Sen. Stiell, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education.
The Junior Minister was quoted on GBN’s “Beyond The Headlines” programme on Monday as saying that Forrester was removed as part of the restructuring of state-owned boards.
In a further broadside on Forrester, pointed out that he himself does not agree with every decision that is taken within the party but there are ways to handle it.
“There are a number of decisions that the NNP party has made over the years that I didn’t agree with but I don’t just get up and decide to oppose it publicly and decide to go against it to the point that I am out there actively campaigning and telling the leadership of the party including the Chairman (Gregory Bowen) for example, that no one will stop him (Forrester) that if the party does not give him the authority to run he will run as an independent”, he said.
“So, I don’t know in the face of this while there is a disciplinary process that may have to be involved -that’s a separate issue – but the whole question of being able to represent the party and the government on specific policy-making decision (on boards) – certainly (that) becomes a problem,” he added.
Prime Minister attributed Forrester’s behaviour probably to the death in recent years of his wife and expressed pity towards him.
“I believe that he has gone through a lot, the death of his wife and I know what that could mean. I hope and pray that is not what is affecting him right now with some of the decisions that he is making but I just wish him the best as a person and I hope and pray that he looks at what he is doing and realise that the person that’s going to get hurt in all this is he himself, nobody else,” Dr. Mitchell remarked.
The Prime Minister was asked specifically by a reporter about the explanation that was given the night before by Sen. Stiell on Forrester’s removal from the two state boards.
The Grenadian leader concurred with the statement made by the Junior Minister that it was time to change some of the personnel on the boards.
Dr. Mitchell said: “We have changed Chairmanship on a number of boards…I can’t give you the list now, but I can tell you Spicemas…recently we have done it but the fact is the two boards that Forrester has been moved on…NAWASA it was up for renewal.
“…(It) is a fact and the other one was the Financial Complex Board which the changes should have occurred weeks ago…it was an oversight on our part that it was not done. So it was a convenient time for us and I made the point already, I don’t see how Terry could have continue chairing boards of a policy nature when he took the position against the party and government of the day,” he added.
Forrester is expected to hold a press conference on Monday at 9.00 a.m. in which he is expected to respond to the claims made by the Prime Minister.
The Forrester/Mitchell fallout has apparently brought an end to their 33-year old association within the NNP.