|Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart. (FP)|
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados has taken over the chairmanship of the Regional Security System (RSS). He was selected to head the regional body at its just concluded meeting in St. John’s, Antigua. Mr. Stuart replaces Errol Cort, the National Security Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
Coming out of that meeting, the new Chairman has reemphasised this country’s commitment to the grouping that comprises the member states of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts, Grenada and Barbados.
Prime Minister Stuart, who is also Barbados’ Minister of Defence and Security, again gave the assurance that Barbados, where the RSS is headquartered, would continue to play a pivotal role in its operations.
Only last December, when the RSS held its meeting here he had reiterated Barbados’ obligation to the system. At that time, he had reminded the region that "the system is an indispensable prerequisite to the continued tranquillity of this region; and, whatever the Barbados Government has to do to ensure that it is properly resourced and properly fuelled – the government will do as long as I have anything to do with it."
The RSS was formed some 30 odd years ago in 1982 to provide for the defence and security of the Eastern Caribbean, with five countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados – being signatory to the initial memorandum of understanding.
It is mandated to assist member states, on request, in national emergencies, the prevention of smuggling, search and rescue, immigration control, fishery protection, customs and excise control, maritime policing duties, the protection of off-shore installations, pollution control, national and other disasters and threats to national security.
The RSS, which gets some assistance, particularly in training, from the US and Canada, is usually the first regional agency to respond when natural disasters or security threats occur.