St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Team Unity administration is indicating that it has great expectations that General Saunders will play a meaningful role in helping make a serious dent in violent crime in the federation.
Prime Minister Timothy Harris told parliament this week that he was expecting a holistic and humanistic approach from the retired major general.
However mention has been made of the former soldier’s role in the 2010 Kingston unrest, dubbed as the Tivoli Incursion, the well documented armed conflict between the Shower Posse drug cartel and Jamaica's military and police forces in the Jamaican capital.
The conflict began on the 23 May 2010 as security forces began searching for major drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke, after the United States requested his extradition, and the leader of the criminal gang that attacked several police stations.
The violence, which largely took place over 24–25 May, killed at least 73 civilians.
General Saunders played a role in bringing an end to the unrest.
However a West Kingston Commission of Enquiry was critical of his role in the May 2010 operation.
Horace Levy of Jamaica’s Peace Management Initiative recalls the Commission’s position on the matter.
“What happened in Tivoli was that he authorized the use of mortars … on international advice and local complaints objected strongly and criticized him very sharply, very sharply. He authorized a certain Major Dickson I think it was, to use mortars and so on that basis the commission very sharply rebuked him and said the fact about both him and head of police Ellington, the only reason they didn’t say the things they said about five other serving police officers, namely that they should never be involved in operations or supervise these operations again, the only reason why they didn’t say it about those two and a couple others is that they had already retired.”
Jamaica’s Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin tells WINN FM that he expects Stewart Saunders to do a good job as Basseterre’s National Security Adviser.
“Major General Saunders is a very competent and professional officer and I found him to be of the highest integrity. I think that General Saunders will be giving his best advice and bear in mind what an advisor is, an advisor is not a decision maker, an advisor gives advice. Their best, unbiased, professional advice, they don’t make decisions.”
A Gleaner newspaper story on July 5 last year quoted Government insiders as revealing that then permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security Major General Saunders was about to demit office.
According to the paper, the development coincided with the release of the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.
Saunders had admitted that he authorised the use of explosives and revealed that 37 mortar rounds were fired into three open spaces in the Tivoli Gardens area.
The commission labeled the decision to fire mortars into the west Kingston community a serious error of judgment.
Rear Admiral Lewin says despite that position by the commission which he disagrees with, he is certain that Stewart Saunders will perform well in his new job in St Kitts and Nevis.
“I think that by availing themselves of the professional knowledge, skills and abilities that General Saunders can bring to the table, availing themselves of that advice, I think will make a significant impact on the matters of crime and security in St Kitts.”
Prime Minister Timothy Harris says much is expected of the new national security adviser.
“Major-General Saunders has played a major role and led in legislative reform in Jamaica including the development of anti-gang legislation. This is something that the Commissioner of Police has asked us to become more aggressive in its implementation.”