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Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government have applauded Jamaican Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson for his contribution to the region and have hailed the regional statesman for his integrity, describing him as a quintessential Caribbean man.
In an emotional farewell at the 17th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago yesterday (February 10), the Heads spoke of Mr. Patterson’s contribution to the region and his “sacrificial service” to the peoples of the Caribbean. Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur said that the region was feeling “an overwhelming sense of loss” at Mr. Patterson’s retirement, while Prime Minister of St. Lucia Dr. Kenny Anthony hailed the Jamaican Prime Minister as a “quintessential Caribbean man” who had ensured that the Caribbean dream remained alive.
Meanwhile, President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, praised Mr. Patterson for his “quiet, calm dignity and professional integrity” and announced that Guyana would be conferring on Mr. Patterson that nation’s highest honour, the Order of Excellence. President of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor George Maxwell Richards also hosted a farewell function for Mr. Patterson last evening at his residence. Mr. Patterson thanked his colleague Heads for their unstinting support through the years, their friendship, cooperation and respect and urged them to give the same support to his successor.
At the final press briefing following the Inter-sessional meeting, Mr. Patterson expressed confidence in the political leadership of CARICOM, stating that he was certain that the leadership would continue to work relentlessly to ensure that the purpose for which the Community had been established, would be accomplished. The Prime Minister said CARICOM was a bold and courageous initiative that had provided a mechanism through which the political, social and cultural interests of the region had been well represented at the highest levels. Although expressing disappointment that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was not the final appellate Court for more Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, he expressed the hope that in time these countries would come to realize the “compelling necessity” of such a Court. Also, Mr. Patterson said, the Regional Development Fund would be critical to the future of the region. “I wish the Community long life and sustainability as it seeks to satisfy the needs of the Region’s people,” he said.