Opposition leaders in the nine-member Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) met in Saint Lucia on Wednesday to discuss issues concerning regional integration.
The participants represent the minority in their countries and the OECS says the voices of their constituents must not be drowned out by incumbent governments.
The meeting is being held to ensure the OECS parliamentary opposition is more closely informed and engaged on vital matters pertaining to the OECS Single Space, which caters for the free movement of people, goods and services among the member states.
It also builds on measures to show respect for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition across the OECS and recognize the necessity of accountability of all sides of the national parliament.
Director General of the OECS Commission Dr. Didacus Jules says the gathering ensures the voices of the minority are heard.
“In the context of states as small and as vulnerable as ours, this reciprocity and recognition of mutual interests is vital to securing progress in a world as competitive as the one we now face. The stark reality of today's global environment is that interdependence forces us to recognize that whatever the forces that divide us, the imperatives that unite us are greater and more important," he said.
Antigua and Barbuda's Opposition Leader says meetings like these are important and serve as a reminder that the opposition is an important part of the political system of every small island state in the Caribbean.
“For the purposes of dialogue and discussion, it will certainly help on us zero in on what is essential, what is important, what is critical for our respective countries development. If we recognize that the opposition is part of the governance of the country, if we understand that and we define that and we appreciate what that means, then that certainly would help in determining how best we are able to relate,” said Baldwin Spencer.
The OECS Commission says the gathering is meant to strengthen the capacity of opposition leaders to share vital information on key integration, economic and social issues in the OECS with their constituents.
The OECS comprises a single financial and economic space and countries have a common approach to trade, health, education and the environment, as well as the development of key sectors such as tourism and the environment. The group was founded in 1981.