PM Browne defiant in face of alleged retaliatory action from the US

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has accused the Government of the United States of America of firing what he considers a retaliatory shot at Antigua & Barbuda for his rebuff of a recent Department of State report on the country.
He told the Parliament yesterday that the US Embassy in Bridgetown indicated that it would “discontinue doing due diligence” on applicants for Antigua & Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
“I was told that only this morning; the CIU [Citizenship by Investment Unit] got a call from the Embassy in Barbados … so I imagine that is their way to fire back at us,” Browne reasoned.
The seeming reprisal has augmented the prime minister’s defiance; with him warning that the embassy’s decision will not derail him from standing up and saying what is the truth.
“I prefer to resign than to have a situation where they make me into a stooge,” he told the Parliament.
Last year, fears about insufficient screening of candidates had prompted the government to declare that the embassy was vetting them.
When the embassy responded to OBSERVER media’s queries back then by saying that each state offering the CIP should conduct its own due diligence, many people interpreted this to mean that the US authorities were not involved in the process.
The document, which ignited the prime minister’s indignation on Thursday, is the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) 2017 on Antigua & Barbuda.
The text is scathing in its assessment of several of the country’s programmes, including the CIP, which is described as being among the most lax in the world.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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