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May 11, 2005

U.N. Ambassador fired; not loyal enough to minister?

Story PictureAnd while Minister of Information Godfrey Smith was fighting to hold the line in his government’s war against the U.D.P., Foreign Minister Godfrey Smith was on the offensive…against key members of his own diplomatic corps. First to face the firing squad was Belize’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Stuart Leslie. The forty year old Leslie, who had held the top post in New York for almost five years, was informed Tuesday by fax that his services were terminated… effective immediately. When asked this morning by News 5′s Stewart Krohn why a highly respected diplomat was dumped so unceremoniously, Smith replied that “no decision has been taken” on Leslie’s position, although “the question of downsizing the New York Mission is under discussion.” When asked why cost-cutting measures would result in the firing of the top diplomat at an important post, Smith repeated firmly, “no decision has been taken.” That story, however, evaporated five minutes later as a chagrined minister called to say that, unbeknownst to him, the termination letter had indeed already been sent to New York. As for the real reason behind Leslie’s decapitation, it is believed that Smith, only recently elected as one of three deputy P.U.P. leaders, felt that Leslie was more loyal to one of his competitors and could not be trusted in any future leadership showdown. In the meantime, Janine Coye-Felson will hold over in New York until a more politically correct ambassador can be recruited. Leslie, who declined to comment on his demise, told News 5 he will be returning home to Belize and looks forward to finding employment in the private sector. Before becoming a diplomat, Leslie was a long time teacher and administrator at St. John’s College. He also worked closely with Prime Minister Said Musa in several of his election campaigns in the Fort George division.

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