Thu, Dec 01, 2011 - Page 3 News List

St Lucia to maintain relations, MOFA says

EQUAL CHANCE:The leader of the party that won the election on Monday told Taiwan he would not sever diplomatic ties, but would let China state its case

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter, with Agencies

The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) gave its reassurance that it would continue to maintain relations with Taiwan prior to winning parliamentary elections on Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

SLP leader Kenny Anthony told Taipei that the party would not withdraw its diplomatic recognition of the Republic of China and would cherish its friendship with Taiwan even more, ministry deputy spokesman Steve Shia (夏季昌) said.

“Taiwan has offered various forms of assistance to St Lucia that have benefited the people of that country and we believe that the newly elected government of St Lucia will proceed with cooperative projects,” Shia said.

The preliminary results of the general election of the Caribbean country released on Tuesday showed that the SLP won by taking 11 of the 17 parliamentary seats.

If the results are confirmed, Anthony, who led the government from 1997 to 2006, will again be taking the oath as prime minister.

Anthony was quoted by local media as saying his government would not break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan immediately, but is prepared to hear Taipei’s case for continued diplomatic relations.

Speaking to the press after the results were announced, Anthony said both Taiwan and China would be given an opportunity to put their case for diplomatic relations to his new administration.

“Well, I did make a statement on radio a few days ago; we have to behave in a civilized way. We have no intention of throwing out the Taiwanese the day after [we won the election]. That would be wrong, that would be improper. I have indicated that we hear both sides,” Anthony said. “We will certainly invite the Taiwanese to come in and speak to us and with us, likewise, if the People’s Republic of China expresses an interest, we will listen to them. We will make an informed decision after hearing both sides.”

“The most important consideration in all of this is the interests of St Lucia,” he added.

In St Lucia, which has a constitutional monarchy system, the leader of the party that won the most votes in legislative elections traditionally becomes prime minister.

The preliminary results matched several pre-election surveys that suggested a likely protest vote against the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) because of an increase in crime and unemployment, as well as failed government policies.

When Anthony was at the helm, he ended relations with Taiwan in 1997 after his party defeated the UWP, which was then under the leadership of the late prime minister John Compton. Compton broke off diplomatic relations with China in favor of Taiwan in 2006 after his party won the general election.

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