Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Derrick James’ status as a diplomat not yet confirmed by the US

While admitting that there is an outstanding situation with regards to the proper job title and position as a diplomat for Derrick James in New York, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said that there are some people who are engaging in mischievous activities with an objective to influence the outcome.

“There are some people who are making mischief, but I can assure you that soon the position will be regularised,” said Dr. Mitchell, who gave the assurance that what is wrong will be fixed.

It’s been more than one year since James was named by the New National Party, which was voted into office on February 19, 2013, as Grenada’s Honorary Consul General in New York, but it appears that his status is yet to be regularised and accepted by the US State Department.

The US State Depart-ment’s records revealed that the last person to serve as Consul General was Mr. Allan McGuire, whose service was terminated when the National Democratic Congress was elected into office in July 2008.

As a United States citizen, James did not meet the entire requirement to hold such a diplomatic post and by 2012 his service was terminated after the Government of Grenada received a letter from the US State Department seeking clarity on Mr. James’ claim as a diplomat for the island.

When the Keith Mitchell Government was voted back into office, James was named by Minister for Legal Affairs as the Honorary Consul General for New York. It is understood that the Government of Grenada recently received a letter from the US State Department calling on Government to address the situation, because although Mr. James is named as Honorary Consul General, he continues to carry the title of Consul General.

“Those positions are totally different diplomatically, although they sound and appear to be same,” said a former diplomat, who prefers not to be identified, but is very versed in US and other diplomatic matters.

“To start with, a Consulate General is a paid diplomatic post with great responsibilities and the person holding that title cannot be a citizen of the country where the office is based, so there is no way that a USA citizen can be the Consul General for Grenada in New York,” she said, while explaining that Honorary Consuls are normally not paid, but receive some kind of stipend and is a referral point to assist citizens of the country whom he or she represents.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Nickolas Steele, said last Friday that he was not aware of any recent communications sent from the US State Department regarding Mr. James’ status and concerns over his continuous claim of having the title of Consul General for Grenada.

Upon coming into office, Government announced that it would be cutting back on its foreign affairs budget and some foreign offices would be affected. In the case of Brussels, the office was closed; the High Commission office in London was relocated to a cheaper location; while as of June 28, the New York Consulate was operating without a Consul General.

“And that is where the problem lies. Mr. James continues to claim he is Consul General, he is allowing persons to put this as his official title on official programmes in New York and he is not correcting them and it’s for all this reason, the State Department wants Grenada to rectify the situation before it becomes a big embarrassment, not just for Mr. James but for the country,” said one person who has in-depth knowledge about the ongoing impasse.

James is presently in Grenada. According to Steele, he has requested some time off to attend to the needs of his family as they are presently going through a bereavement.

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