THE NEW TODAY has not been able to get straight answers from government officials on allegations that France has turned down a request made by the one-year old Keith Mitchell-led government to accept Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris as the island’s accredited diplomat to Paris.
This newspaper on Tuesday quizzed Senator Winston Garraway, Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Information and Kisha Alexander-Grant, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister on the reports.
Both Sen. Garraway and the Press Secretary pointed The New Today in the direction of the Foreign Affairs Ministry for an answer to the question about Sawiris’ diplomatic status.
The one-year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Mitchell has named the Egyptian as its Ambassador Designate to France, which is expected to give a reply on the submission of the name.
THE NEW TODAY has not been able to independently confirm reports that France has rejected Sawiris’ nomination.
Approaches were made to senior public officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but they indicated that the two individuals with the authority to confirm such information – Minister Steele and Permanent Secretary Arlene Buckmire-Outram – are presently out of State.
According to Sen. Garraway, he would prefer not to comment on the issue but to leave the response to the Foreign Affairs Minister himself.
Minister Steele who is expected to be back on the job on Monday has in the past chosen to shy away from THE NEW TODAY newspaper.
At a recent sitting of Parliament, the senior government minister joined with Prime Minister Mitchell in labeling the weekly publication as a “scandal sheet” and “illegal newspaper” operating in the country.
The move to seek accreditation for Sawiris as Grenada’s envoy to France follows an announcement from the Mitchell government that the business tycoon has promised to construct a five star hotel on the world famous Grand Anse beach.
There are reports that the businessman has purchased the remains of the Silver Sands, and is also interested in the Rivierra property located between Camerhogne Park and Grenada Grand Beach Resort.
Sawiris and his wife Ghada Gamil Sawiris are two of 18 individuals granted Grenadian Diplomatic Passports in the past eight months under the NNP administration.
The Egyptian has been described as one with major investments in the telecommunication industry in his homeland and in other parts of the world.
His company also owns major shares in the world’s largest cement producing company.
His business portfolio extends to many countries in the Middle East, Switzerland and the US.
The Sawiris diplomatic confirmation issue comes against the backdrop of a report carried two weeks ago in this newspaper about China rejecting a bid made by Grenada to get Beijing to accredit four diplomats to Kong Kong -Yanxia Cao as Honorary Consul, Nancy Yunlin Wei as Deputy Honorary Consul, and Ambassadors-at-large Xiaguang Yang and Pen-Chung Wang.
Beijing told Grenada that in the specific cae of the proposed Honorary Consul that he was “not Hong Kong Special Administrative Regional permanent resident, therefore, does not meet the relevant provisions in the two countries agreement in July 27, 2006 about appointing Honorary Consul in Hong Kong”.
THE NEW TODAY understand that government has asked a special arm of the State to investigate who within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs might have leaked to this newspaper the two confidential notes from Beijing on the diplomatic embarrassment caused to the country by Minister Steele’s handling of the proposed appointments.