For some time now, the United Workers Party (UWP) candidate for Vieux Fort South, Hermangild Francis, has made several statements regarding his inability to secure the post of Commissioner of Police of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) and specifically, my alleged role in preventing him from becoming Commissioner.
Until now, I have refrained from commenting on his statements, some of which are false, as I have been reluctant to bring into the public domain matters of confidentiality during my tenure as prime minister. However, his most recent utterances to the press, including his insinuations regarding my motives during my tenure as prime minister for not supporting his appointment as Commissioner and his admission of “spousal abuse”, have compelled me to respond to defend my reputation and to clarify the historical record since he has opened the doors to his personal record during his tenure in the RSLPF.
I note that Dr Tennyson Joseph has repudiated some of the statements made by Hermangild Francis.
The statements of Hermangild Francis have opened the “Pandora’s Box” of his behaviour and history.
There is no question that the former Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration was exceedingly kind and generous to Hermangild Francis. And he has shown little or no gratitude, not even grudgingly to the former administration.
When the SLP assumed office in 1997, Hermangild Francis was an Inspector. Within months he was given a double promotion to Superintendent, bypassing the rank of assistant superintendent. He was then assigned the post of “Officer in Charge” of the Southern Division in Vieux Fort, a tenure many Vieux Fortians remember exceedingly well and more of which will be said in due course. About a year later, he was again promoted to the rank of assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for crime, a newly created portfolio.
He was then promoted from Inspector to assistant Commissioner in a year and a half. It was during that period that he was involved in his “wife incident”. By then, Neil Parker, a Canadian Police Officer, had joined the RSLPF and was determined that Hermangild Francis faced disciplinary and criminal charges for “spousal abuse” and assault. To calm the firestorm that had erupted as a result of the allegations, Hermangild Francis was sent on leave for several months. He was eventually recalled and re-assigned as “ACP Operations” as it was thought that he could not head the “Crime Unit” as he was himself, the subject of criminal investigations for assault. He remained there for a short while until he left for the Faculty of Law, UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados.
The circumstances under which he was accepted in the Faculty of Law and the benefits which he received while he was at the faculty will be the subject of a subsequent statement. Suffice it to say that Hermangild Francis was not selected on a competitive basis to attend the Faculty of Law to pursue an LL.B degree.
A year after he returned from the University of the West Indies, he was promoted to the post of deputy Commissioner of Police, a post which had been re-activated as it had been “mothballed” for several years.
It is astonishing the Hermangild Francis would say on public media, that there was no succession plan for the force. In fact, the SLP government had re-structured the upper echelons of the police force, creating in the process, several new positions. He was a major player and beneficiary in the force’s succession plan. His rapid promotion to an executive position placed him in line to replace outgoing Commissioner of Police, Francis Nelson. However, the incident of his “spousal abuse” to which he has now confessed, factored in the extension of Nelson’s tenure by one year, causing him to retire at age 56. It also caused the return of Brian Bernard from the ministry of external affairs to head the force.
When Brian Barnard’s tenure ended, the occasion arose to appoint a new Commissioner of Police. I summoned all the Gazetted Officers of the RSLPF to a meeting at the conference room of the National Insurance Corporation, to discuss the future of the force and its leadership. At that meeting, I requested the officers to vote by secret ballot for their choice of Commissioner of Police to replace Brian Bernard. I distinctly remember that Hermangild Francis got only one vote. That vote sealed his fate as none of his colleagues, save one, wanted him to be Commissioner of Police.
It is now a matter of historical record, that after the UWP won the general elections in 2006, Hermangild Francis was sent on compulsory leave for an extended period of time. He languished in Anse la Raye, for a considerable amount of time until he was eventually recalled.
In 2011, he offered to be the candidate of the Saint Lucia Labour Party for the Anse la Raye/Canaries constituency. No “run-off” was ever held for that constituency. The Saint Lucia Labour Party felt that Dr Desmond Long was a superior and far better candidate and, in any event, Hermangild Francis was too compromised and tainted to be a candidate of the Saint Lucia Labour Party.
I believed then and even more so now, that it was the right decision.
Dr Kenny D. Anthony
Vieux-Fort South Constituency