Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bahamas: Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau Respond To WikiLeaks Report

DPM, U.S. Embassy Responds To WikiLeaks Report

By Sasha L. Lightbourne

Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette said he is not bothered by a leaked report from WikiLeaks, which detailed how the prime minister reportedly had no confidence in Mr. Symonette becoming the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) back in 2003.

"I had no intention of running for leader of the party," Mr. Symonette told the Bahama Journal.

"I ran as deputy leader of the party and was elected. I never sought to get any advice from [Prime Minister Hubert] Ingraham on running for leader because I had no intentions of running for leader so I’m not the least bit interested in this story. I smiled at it because in 2002, I was the only Member of Parliament elected for Nassau for the Free National Movement."

The report, printed in a local daily yesterday, detailed how the prime minister was having a conversation with a U.S. embassy official and said that due to Mr. Symonette’s "personality and lack of appeal" he would not make a good leader.

In 2005, Symonette did not challenge for the leadership at the party’s convention. 

He went for deputy leader and won.  He was made deputy prime minister when the party won at the polls in 2007.

Mr. Symonette also told the Journal that he does not feel like the report will have an effect on the relationship he has with the prime minister.

"I have an incredibly sound relationship with the prime minister," he said.

"He and I get on incredibly well. We both understand each other and on numerous times under his watch I have served as acting prime minister in his absence. He and I fully understand each other and each other’s contribution."

Minister Symonette said he has no problem working with the prime minister and the comments in the story will have "no bearing on the relationship."

In a statement released late yesterday by the United States Embassy, it said that the unauthorised release of classified material has the very real potential to harm individuals as well as efforts to advance objectives shared by the country and the US. 

"It is unfortunate that a decision has been made to release information from conversations that took place in confidence," the statement said.

"The U.S. Government engages in the drafting and transmission of cables as an efficient form of global communication.  U.S. policy is made in Washington and field reporting is only one of the factors contributing to policy decisions."

The statement explained that communications between the field and Washington ensures that policymakers in Washington have a full understanding of all the factors at play when they make decisions. 

"By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often raw information.  Analysis expressed in cables may also be out of context, or may be the opinion of the reporting officer- and those opinions may not be shared by policymakers," the release said.

May 24th, 2011