Monday 16 July, 2018

PNM women’s group defends appointment of “young” ambassador

The People’s National Movement (PNM)’s Women League has come out in defence of Makeda Antoine, who was recently appointed by the government as Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to the Permanent Mission of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.

Antoine has been the subject of criticism with many expressing concern that she may be too young, inexperienced and unqualified for the position.

However, the PNM’s Women League has thrown its support behind Antoine saying that competence and ability cannot be limited to one’s age.

The group cited several examples of women leaders who it says began their tenure at a young age, including Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson Regis who served as a senator and minister at the age of the 33.

The PNM’s Women’s League also hit back at Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar who described Antonie’s appointment as ‘a blatant act of nepotism.’

The Opposition leader said the appointment reeked of ‘political patronage’ and called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to revoke her appointment.

However, the women’s group responded by saying that the Opposition is fully aware of the scrutiny and vetting a candidate is subjected to from first-hand experience when one of their choices was rejected by a Caribbean neighbour.

It, therefore, noted that Antoine’s appointment was only confirmed when her background and credentials were examined and found worthy by the UN.

The group added that the main duty of an ambassador is to represent the nation.

The PNM’s Women’s League noted it is a role which requires diplomacy, integrity, honesty, humility and the ability to inspire, and said that Antoine has given every indication that she possesses these qualities.

The group’s support for the newly appointed ambassador came on the same day that Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young told reporters that he was disheartened by the attempts to discredit her.

Young defended the appointment, noting that Antoine was ‘highly qualified.’

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Former diplomat Reginald Dumas were among those who expressed concern over Antoine’s appointment as an ambassador.

Dumas said he was not concerned about her age, but her qualifications for the post.