Kamla Vows to Take Legal Action Against Her Appointment
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — Amidst controversy over her appointment, the Women’s League of the People’s National Movement (PNM) has thrown its support behind young Makeda Antoine as she prepares to take up the post of TT Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of the United Nations in Geneva.
This comes as Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has vowed to take legal action against government’s decision to appoint Antoine on the basis of her experience or lack thereof to handle such a position, the Trinidad Newsday has reported.
Antoine is in her early thirties, according to reports.
Chairman of the PNM National Women’s League Camille Robinson-Regis was reported as saying the league believes that competence and ability could not be limited to one’s age, citing her own stint when she served as Housing and Development Minister at 33; Nafeesa Mohammed, who was deputy political leader at 35; Onika Haynes, vice-chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation; and Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing was one of the youngest senators at 25.
In a statement, Robinson-Regis said Luanan Guerra, who served as deputy mayor of Arima at 27, and Malaika Blair, who was deputy mayor of San Fernando at 26, also provided sterling examples of the advantages of youth in power.
“The league knows that the Opposition is fully aware of the scrutiny and vetting that a candidate is subjected to from first-hand experience when one of their choices was rejected by a Caribbean neighbour. Notwithstanding the Opposition leader’s interest maybe because the last appointee was ill-suited for the position,” the release said.
Antoine, it said, was appointed to the post after her background and credentials were examined, and met the standards of the United Nations and various European governments.
The league said an ambassador’s duty was to represent the nation and required diplomacy, integrity, honesty, humility and the ability to inspire.
Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar has called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to revoke the appointment.
Speaking at a UNC’s meeting at the St Helena Hindu Primary School, Persad-Bissessar was reported by the Trinidad Guardian as saying Antoine’s only qualification for the position is that “she is PNM.” The appointment, she said, “reeks of political patronage.”
Declaring that Antoine had “no foreign affairs or diplomatic experience,” Persad-Bissessar was quoted as saying, “The appointment of such an inexperienced individual to such a significant foreign mission is not only a cause for concern but one that will “surely weaken this country’s dialogue, position and respect in global affairs.”
She said by virtue of her position, Antoine will be this country’s “ex-officio ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the International Labour Organisation as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.”
If he fails to do so, she said: “I shall treat with this matter in a different forum outside of Trinidad and Tobago to protect the international image of our country.”
According to Antoine’s LinkedIn profile, she obtained an MBA Strategic Management Emphasis at Andrews University in 2008 and obtained a BSc in Computer Systems at the same university in 2002.
She was previously employed as Senior Manager of Commercial Operations at the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).