CASTRIES –– St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet has refused to be drawn into any controversy regarding investigations involving minister in the Ministry of Finance Dr Ubaldus Raymond.
Raymond landed in the spotlight after nude photos said to be of him and extracts of a WhatsApp conversation that reportedly took place between him and an 18-year-old girl, were circulated on social media.
The teenager was arrested and charged with blackmailing Raymond on January 13.
The minister has not publicly spoken on the matter but issued a statement saying he would “not give in to political operatives who will use the most disgusting tactics in order to malign my name or to scare me into submission”.
However, several calls have been made for Raymond to step aside.
Pressed by reporters yesterday for his position on the matter, Chastanet made it clear that the government will not engage in any “hearsay and who-say” and would determine its course of action once investigations are completed.
“Once the case is heard and we understand what the facts are, then everybody can jump to whatever conclusion they want based on facts. At this point, all we know is that charges have been brought against a young lady, that there are pictures in circulation and there’s a bunch of hearsay,” he said.
The prime minister snubbed reports that his cabinet was divided on the matter, stressing that his ministerial team was powerless to intervene and the investigation should be allowed to run its course.
Several local groups, including the National Students’ Council, have expressed disappointment at the development.
In a statement, the organization stressed that St Lucia should demand better examples from its leaders.
The council also made a case for Government to offer support to the female student at the centre of the controversy.
Former Gender Relations and Health Minister Alvina Reynolds also called on Raymond to step aside, insisting he should be held accountable.
“As a society we must, by our actions, show that neither women nor the weak and vulnerable are made to bear a higher burden than men or persons in positions of wealth, power and authority,” she said.