March 7, 2014
Eustace, no-show for diplomatic e-passport

While a number of important officials of this country were present at the official launch of the e-passport on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace was a no-show.{{more}}

After the official launch, several important office holders were issued diplomatic e-passports and had the opportunity to see the process that the travel document goes through.

Following his address, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves returned to the podium to add that he had invited the Opposition Leader to have a diplomatic e-passport issued, as Eustace holds an important office in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“You will see several important office holders here. When I was asked, as minister responsible for immigration and passports, as to the persons for whom we should issue diplomatic passports, I said we have to issue to the important branches of government. Naturally, His Excellency, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Honourable Speaker, representing the Parliament, the judiciary, represented by Your Lordship, the Judge, the Honorable Attorney General and of course, the Director of Public Prosecutions,” Gonsalves explained.

“The other person…who is an important office holder, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, I didn’t see him here today. Sir Vincent suggested that given that this has a foreign policy, we must also invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs to get one of the passports to be issued today. I said that is a fair matter.”

Gonsalves, who indicated that he was not responsible for making the calls to the officials, stated that Chief Immigration Officer, Stanford Hamilton told him that he had in fact gotten in touch with the office of the Opposition Leader. However, Eustace did not return his application form on Monday, which was the stipulated deadline.

“I had to sign my form too in order to get my passport and I suspect His Excellency had to do the same thing. You can’t get it unless you sign up and have the checks go through,” the Prime Minister said.

When SEARCHLIGHT spoke with Eustace on Wednesday, the Opposition Leader indicated that he was simply not available to attend the function.

He added that he supports the implementation of the e-passport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Any passport, if it’s safer, I support. I don’t have a problem with that. Yesterday, I was just not available and I had not even completed the application for the passport,” Eustace said.