BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 28, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, today, Thursday, November 28, 2019, commenced the debate on what is being described as one of the most significant pieces of legislation to go before the National Assembly—the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
“This Bill is an historic one. It is an historic Bill because it represents the first real attempt to bring Constitutional change since the Independence Constitutional Order of 1983. Today Team Unity makes history in being the first to actually propose real and substantive change to the Constitution of 1983. This is an historic Bill because today the smallest country, indeed the smallest nation state in the Americas, is leading on fundamental matters of governance – the tenure of office of the head of government,” said Prime Minister Harris.
The Bill, which had its first reading on February 21, 2018, seeks to amend Section 52, which is concerned with the appointment of Ministers. Specifically, it proposes the insertion of two new subsections, stating in 52 (2) A that, “Notwithstanding subsection 52 (2), a Representative shall not hold office as Prime Minister for more than two terms, whether or not served consecutively” and stating in 52 (2) (B) that, “In this section, a ‘term’ refers to the period provided for in section 31 of the Constitution.” Section 31 is concerned with the Tenure of Office of Representatives and Senators.
The honourable prime minister, who is the mover of the Bill, stated that the tabling of this piece of legislation is fundamental to the good governance agenda which the people of St. Kitts and Nevis voted for in February 2015.
“We are bringing the Bill in keeping with the transformational agenda that gave birth to Team Unity and it is that transformational agenda that has kept Team Unity safely and securely together for nigh these five years. That transformational agenda of good governance and prosperity for all received the full endorsement of an electorate that was convinced that the former administration had outlived its useful life and was out of touch with the soul of the nation, the ethos of what ought to be an evolving participatory democracy,” Prime Minister Harris added.
Dr. Harris continued by saying that establishing term limits for the holder of the Office of Prime Minister would further align St. Kitts and Nevis with international best practices.
He said, “We could look to the great United States of America, long regarded as the beacon of democracy, where there is term limits…and in their view that was healthy to participatory democracy. In their view it allowed a breath of fresh air to come into the body politic and to take America higher in its call to greatness.”
Prime Minister Harris said the Team Unity administration fulfilled its promise by bringing this landmark legislation to the National Assembly and “it is now time for the Members of Parliament to support the people by giving consent to this Bill, which is deserving of their fullest support and commendation.”