Term limits for the office of the PM will improve democracy, says PM

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 28, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The tabling of the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to establish term limits for the holder of the Prime Minister, is about ensuring the governance of St. Kitts and Nevis is responsive and relevant to the needs of the people.

That is according to Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who commenced the debate on the historic piece of legislative reform during today’s (Thursday, November 28) sitting of the National Assembly.

Prime Minister Harris said the Bill brings with it a sense of urgency to the person who is privileged to hold the Office of Prime Minister, adding that, “When leaders know they have a limited time to achieve for the people they are incentivized to do the reforms, and those reforms…will only benefit the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. This Bill further broadens the quality of democracy in our Federation as it means now they are going to be held accountable by the people.”

Furthermore, the prime minister stated that such legislative reform would promote succession planning that will allow the next generation to take the mantle of leading St. Kitts and Nevis forward.

“This legislation is about making sure that the Office of the Prime Minister will always be a vibrant one of new, modern and healthy perspectives,” Prime Minister Harris observed.

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 Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 represents the first real attempt to bring Constitutional change since the Independence Constitutional Order of 1983.