FIRED! Antigua’s PM dismisses Agriculture Minister

Dean Jonas was relieved of his role as Agriculture Minister on Monday.

Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Monday said he had dismissed his Agriculture Minister Dean Jonas after indicating that he had for more than six months sought to dissuade the former cabinet minister “from taking decisions that are inimical to good governance”.

Browne wrote to Governor-General Rodney Williams on Monday advising him “to terminate the duties and responsibilities” of Jonas, with immediate effect.

“Your relationship with your staff in the Ministry is toxic, and a continuous decline is evident from the reports that have reached me.”

— Browne

The move followed a meeting earlier on Monday between Browne and several workers from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Achieve reconciliation

In a separate letter to the former minister, Browne informed the parliamentary representative of St George’s constituency, that “for more than six months, I have tried to dissuade you from taking decisions that are inimical to good governance, and to my government’s policy.

“My attempts have been in vain. Your relationship with your staff in the Ministry is toxic, and a continuous decline is evident from the reports that have reached me. The relationship with the farmers is also toxic and deteriorating further,” Browne wrote.

He said on the basis of the inabilities of the former minister “to develop a good working relationship with his staff and with farmers, it has become necessary to provide the representative with a six-month period for reflection and contemplation as to how to achieve reconciliation”.

Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda

Flawed information

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said under Section 71(1) of the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution, Prime Minister Gaston “is authorised to select or to terminate members of Cabinet”.

Last weekend, Browne, speaking on a radio programme, said he was putting Jonas “under public notice that he either shape up or ship out” following public accusations that Jonas had not met the goals in the ministry since his appointment one and a half year ago.

But Jonas in a separate interview told radio listeners that Prime Minister Browne may have taken his position based on flawed information.

“Well I think the comment was…totally wrong,” Jonas said, adding that Browne had provided him with data “that clearly was wrong”.