Categorized | Featured, National News

Diplomatic Bungle


In a shocking announcement, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday revealed that then ambassador designate to the United States Dr. Elliston Rahming withdrew his name from consideration for the top post in May and asked to be reassigned.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced via press statement that Dr. Eugene Newry had been appointed ambassador to the United States with immediate effect – the post that Dr. Rahming was scheduled to assume.

As a result, the ministry said Dr. Rahming would assume the post of ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) – the post Dr. Newry was scheduled to assume.

Dr. Rahming will continue as the permanent representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS).
“We decided within weeks of the announcement being made of [Dr. Rahming] being made ambassador designate that there are certain organisational changes that we wanted to make and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had quite a detailed discussion with the prime minister about this and this necessitated some changes in the organisational structure Minister Mitchell said yesterday in an interview with The Bahama Journal.

“While the consideration of Dr. Rahming’s initial appointment was being considered by the U.S., Dr. Rahming decided that he would withdraw and ask for another assignment. That took place in May. It fit in quite well with our reorganisation plans and we asked him if he would be willing to take the assignment to the United Nations and he agreed, but we didn’t want to make any announcement about this until the U.S. had provided the agrément. Dr. Newry also agreed, so it all fit in rather neatly.”

The news, however, did not shock the Free National Movement (FNM), which speculated in June that Dr. Rahming had been withdrawn from consideration for the post.

FNM Chairman Hubert Chipman, who is also the Opposition’s shadow minister for foreign affairs, said the conduct of this and other appointments raises serious concerns about the manner in which affairs of state have been conducted by Prime Minister Perry Christie and Minister Mitchell.

“If the government is to be believed that Dr. Elliston Rahming requested this withdrawal himself on May 3, 2013, it is very unusual and highly questionable as to why the prime minister still permitted him to present his credentials to . . . fill both positions, it seems highly ill-considered to still appoint Dr. Rahming to the OAS if they knew at the time that Dr. Rahming’s nomination was not approved by the United States government,” Mr. Chipman said.

Prior to the diplomatic post swap Dr. Rahming’s appointment had been shrouded in controversy with many critics calling the government’s handling of the diplomatic appointments “disastrous.”

Mr. Chipman said to date, Prime Minister Christie’s and Mr. Mitchell’s combined performances have been “less than stellar.”
“The handling of this matter is a culmination of numerous foreign policy blunders that have left both the prime minister and his foreign affairs minister with enormous credibility problems here at home and in the international community,” Mr. Chipman said.

“They have a considerable amount of work to do to get back on track.”

The ministry said Dr. Newry, who once served as ambassador to Haiti, is expected to present his credentials “shortly,” according to the ministry.

The two ambassadors will be introduced to their respective staffs on August 27 and August 28 respectively, according to Minister Mitchell, who said that these ambassadorial appointments put “everything in place.”

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis had recently demanded answers from the government on Dr. Rahming’s delayed confirmation as ambassador to the U.S.

But, Minister Mitchell said yesterday that Dr. Minnis should be asking the U.S. why it has not appointed an ambassador to The Bahamas.

The Bahamas has been without an ambassador since Nicole Avant demitted office in 2011 after a two-year stint in The Bahamas.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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