Dominica's prime minister, Eugenia Charles, told the Security Council today that the governor general of Grenada had secretly appealed to neighboring Caribbean states last Friday to intervene militarily and return the island to "normalcy."
It was the first open claim that a Grenadan official--the representative of British Queen Elizabeth, who is Grenada's head of state--had called for outside intervention. If borne out, diplomats said, it would bolster the case for the legitimacy of the U.S.-led invasion yesterday.
Charles, the first speaker at today's council meeting, said she had been unable to refer to the appeal by Governor General Sir Paul Scoon until that moment because his safety had not yet been assured. Scoon, a native Grenadan, reportedly had been under house arrest at least since last week's assassination of prime minister Maurice Bishop and others, and there were reports as late as this morning that his residence was still besieged. The Defense Department said later today that Scoon was now in American hands.
Charles would not specify how Scoon's alleged message had been smuggled out to the meeting of the Organization of East Caribbean States in Barbados last Friday, but she told reporters "he had invited us to come in and do what we could to bring back normalcy in Grenada."
The appeal, she said, was "for action to prevent what was happening in Grenada from continuing to happen." Asked if his request included military action, she said, "Yes."
The leader of Dominica described the governor general as the only remaining constitutional authority on the island because "there is no government in Grenada now." The 16 men of the Revolutionary Military Council that replaced Bishop "never at any time said they were a government," she added.
A British Embassy spokesman in Washington said that while Bishop had discarded the constitution spelling out Scoon's limited powers as the effective head of state--as distinct from the prime minister, or head of government--neither Bishop nor the military had disclaimed recognition of the queen or her representative, Scoon. The relationship is typical within the Commonwealth.
Charles told the council that Grenada's neighbors were convinced that local residents and foreigners on the island were in physical danger after Bishop's assassination, and feared that Grenada would be used "as a staging post for acts of aggression against its neighbors."
She said the governor general would be asked to assume executive authority and appoint an interim government. She said the Commonwealth Secretariat had been asked to provide a peace-keeping force that would then replace the present occupation troops, including Caribbean contingents. No response has yet been received from the Commonwealth, she said.
The Security Council was meeting for the second day to consider a resolution proposed by Guyana that would condemn the "armed intervention in Grenada" as a violation of international law and would demand withdrawal of invading troops.
The resolution's backers indicated a willingness to modify the condemnation in order to win maximum support on the 15-nation council. The council adjourned this evening and a vote was expected Thursday.
Although the resolution does not mention the United States by name, a U.S. veto is considered certain. At that point, backers of the resolution have suggested, the issue would be taken to the General Assembly, where no veto power exists--but in which resolutions are not legally binding on governments.
Still, the object appeared to be to isolate the United States and its Caribbean allies from prevailing world opinion, which appeared here to be virtually unanimous in its opposition to the invasion.
More than 20 countries, including some American allies, have already addressed the council and opposed the U.S. action as totally unjustified. Only the United States, Jamaica and Dominica have defended it.
Some, such as Zaire, have also criticized the Council for failing to take similar action on other armed interventions--such as the Libyan invasion of Chad. "It is time for others on the council to assure us," said Zaire's representative, "that they will not hesitate to condemn interventions wherever they occur."
Privately, representatives of pro-American governments such as Pakistan and Singapore have contended that the U.S. action in Grenada undermines their efforts to sustain majority support against Soviet and Vietnamese occupations of Afghanistan and Cambodia.
Some diplomats from Latin America and from Asia said privately that they could have understood if the United States had acted covertly in Grenada, but that the overt intervention could not be endorsed diplomatically.
In speaking to reporters after her council statement, Dominica's prime minister also maintained that elections would be held on the island in about six months.