Amid the shocking money laundering indictment by the United States of former Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss, some members of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) are calling for the party to postpone its annual conference scheduled for Sunday.
According to one source familiar with the request, some members of the executive are pushing for a two-week postponement, arguing that the Inniss issue would be a dark cloud overshadowing the entire affair.
The source also noted that with Inniss – who was to contest the position of general secretary – now out of the reckoning, the process of electing a new executive would be somewhat out of whack
“This thing has come as a shock to the entire party and I think some members would need some time to gather themselves. Inniss was down to contest the position as general secretary and now he would not be able to make it on Sunday or possibly ever again. So persons have suggested that the conference be pushed back by two weeks,” the source told Barbados TODAY.
It was not immediately clear if the suggestion was being seriously considered by the party, which is still under the control of former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the outgoing DLP president.
Efforts to reach members of the executive, including General Secretary George Pilgrim, were unsuccessful.
However, party stalwart Astor B Watts told Barbados TODAY he was aware of efforts to postpone the conference. The 97-year-old DLP faithful argued that while Inniss’ arrest was a big blow to the party, members needed to face the music sooner rather than later.
“I am told that someone either wrote or suggested to put it off for two weeks. That does not make sense because even if you put it off for two years that sore is going to be there. We are going to have to work around it because Jesus, when he was on this earth, had all kind of things happen to him but he still kept his focus on God,” Watts said.
“We as a party will have to move past this because people will always remember that Donville was charged with a serious crime,” he added.
Inniss, who represented St James South in the House of Assembly for ten years before he was whipped by Sandra Husbands of the Barbados Labour Party in the May 24 general election, securing only 24 per cent of the votes cast, compared to 68 per cent by Husbands, was arrested in the United States in the early hours of Friday morning, and was subsequently charged with money laundering.
In a three-count Grand Jury indictment, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York accuses the former Cabinet minister of engaging in a scheme to accept US$36,000 in bribes from a Barbadian insurance company, then laundering the cash into the US.
The alleged incidents occurred some time between August 2015 and April 2016, the indictment said.
It also said it involved insurance contracts with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation by a majority-Bermudian owned Barbadian insurance company not named in the indictment, but since identified as the Insurance Corporation of Barbados.
Watts argued that even though Inniss was the lone defendant, his arrest cast a shadow over his former Cabinet colleagues, who would now be under public scrutiny.
“It is not only going to be a shadow on him and his other party colleagues but the entire party. Human nature is going to lump all of us in the same group until we are able to stand up and present integrity and show that our characters are not foiled by the under current. That is what we must do now. As the conscience of the others are clear then they should be able to stand and hold their right hand in the air towards the Almighty and declare before God and man that they did nothing wrong,” he stressed.