Minister Claims Whale Vote Was Bought
Similar claims were made in regard to Dominica's whale votes at
Our whale vote was bought, says minister
By Environment Reporter BELINDA HEGGEN
A caribbean Government minister has resigned after claiming Japan
bought his country's vote at the International Whaling Commission.
Dominica's fisheries minister, Atherton Martin, said yesterday his
Cabinet had originally voted to abstain in Tuesday's vote over a
planned South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.
Speaking from Dominica, Mr Martin said he tabled his resignation
shortly after discovering the Caribbean nation had defied the Cabinet
decision and voted against the sanctuary.
Dominica joined Japan in voting against the sanctuary proposal, which
failed to win three quarters majority support.
Mr Martin said Japan had given his country which has a population of
just over 70,000 people about $7 million for new fisheries
facilities since it joined the commission.
This included a new fisheries complex with offices, conference room
and fish storage facilities. Mr Martin claimed the money was tied to
Dominica supporting Japan in commission meetings.
He described Japan as "an international extortionary outlaw". "If
Japan didn't have this influence Dominica wouldn't have any business
as a member of this political organisation. We're not a whaling
nation, we are a whale-watching nation," Mr Martin said.
Japanese Government spokesman Komatsu Masayuki rejected the
accusations and made his own claims about Mr Martin being controlled
by conservation groups.
"Atherton Martin is a plant by the non-government organisations to try
and influence the Dominican Government," he said.
Mr Masayuki reiterated Japan's comments in relation to previous
allegations of vote buying, saying his country gave aid to 150
countries, including ones which did not vote with Japan. Dominica
commissioner Lloyd Pascal also denied the allegations, saying Mr
Martin's resignation was an attempt to destabilise the newly elected
Mr Pascal said Dominica's vote was made under the direction of
Dominica's recently elected Prime Minister, Roosevelt Douglas.
He said the Prime Minister decided to strip Mr Martin of his fisheries
role and the business of the commission was now under the Prime
Minister's ministry of foreign affairs department.
Mr Pascal refused to answer questions about who was paying Dominica's
registration fees at the commission meeting being held in Adelaide.
News of the resignation was announced by Dominica Conservation
Association board member Mona George-Dill at a press conference on the
last day of commission meetings.
She claimed her country's initial decision to abstain over the
sanctuary proposal was met with swift action.
"When the decision was made to decide our own direction in how we
voted in this international forum we had a delegation of Japanese come
(to our island) to tell us they saw our decision as a hostile act,"
"What I'm concerned about is when you have a powerful international
government looking at very micro economies and holding them to ransom
for development aid."
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