St. Kitts and Nevis has gone from one season, rapidly into another. While the Christmas Season, mixed with carnival), was all about peace, love and harmony, it appears that within days after closing the season of celebration, Kittitians and Nevisians have found themselves caught up in a political season of division, hurt, deceit, and dwindling confidence in politicians.
The streets of Basseterre were expected to be filled with protesters on Friday afternoon, (11th January, 2013), when the members and supporters of the opposition People’s Action Movement, PAM, were scheduled to embark on their “March of No Confidence”, in the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Denzil Douglas.
The party leaders have indicated that this move had become necessary, as the sentiments of the people are mounting, with citizens of all persuasions, complaining about the high cost of living; unbearable high electricity fees; a high Value Added Tax (VAT) that is causing much economic concern for poor families, especially single mothers; the giving away of our sugar lands to foreign nationals, while the ordinary poor and working class people of the country are denied access to buy land at affordable prices. They used a series of meetings this week to promote their march and the reasons for the action.
PAM says it is again reminding the public of the recent Resolution of No Confidence that has been filed by the opposition members of the National Assembly; and which some in the public feel has a good chance of succeeding and causing the government of Dr. Douglas to fall, after 18 years at the helm of national politics in the 104 square mile twin island Caribbean nation. Though such a motion, said the PAM officials, should be given urgent priority for debate and vote in the parliament, they have complained that the Prime minister has been using all types of delay tactics to avoid a sitting of the Assembly. However, now that such a meeting has been called for next Tuesday, 15th January, all focus will be placed on the law making body, to see exactly what may transpire. The government is also concerned about how two of its own members, (Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor and Senior Minister Dr. Timothy Harris), will vote on the motion. There is widespread belief that they will support the motion. If this is done, then the long run of Prime Minister Douglas would be ended. This is what has caused the dramatic change in the political climate in St. Kitts and Nevis, coupled with the on-going campaign on Nevis for local elections there on Tuesday 22nd January.
This brought the episode of Friday’s march into perspective. The opposition continues to insist that they and the nation have lost all confidence in Dr. Douglas as leader of the country and would like him to either resign and step aside or call an early general election. This seems likely in the next two months, as is being predicted by the local political forecasters.
The People’s Action Movement, (PAM), and the Leader of the Opposition in parliament, Mark Brantley, have again reminded why the level of confidence for the government and the prime minister has tumbled. The following is what was contained in the Resolution of No Confidence:
“The leadership of Dr. Denzil Douglas over the past 16 years has been marked by ever increasing hardship for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and greater and greater disrespect by him for members of his own Cabinet, members of the Opposition, and citizens of this country. St. Kitts and Nevis is now more divided and divisive than ever with no effort being made by the Prime Minister to change his confrontational leadership style which has destroyed the socio-economic fabric of our once thriving Federation.”
“Our Nation finds itself at its lowest ebb since Independence and the Opposition lays the state of our Nation squarely at the feet of the gross mismanagement and incompetence of our Prime Minister in handling the affairs of State. To this end and using the parliamentary tools available, I have submitted the Motion of No Confidence in the following terms:
“WHEREAS since the installation of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas as Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis he has been governing the Federation in such a manner which has undermined our Constitution, has led to disastrous economic outturns and a decreasing lack of public confidence in his leadership.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has constantly and wilfully disregarded the Constitution of the Country.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has undermined the Ministerial system of Government as prescribed in the Constitution.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has failed to consult the Country prior to the Land for Debt Swap Agreement with the St. Kitts-Nevis and Anguilla National Bank Ltd with the resultant sell-out of our patrimony.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has refused to effect a decrease in electricity rates in St. Kitts with the result that household and commercial consumers find themselves unable to pay and some have had
to return to early 20th century modes of lighting with lamps and candles.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has refused to uphold a system of good governance thereby destroying the public service.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has mismanaged the financial affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis thereby incurring a massive national debt with defaults on bond payments and the imposition of haircuts without
regard to the consequences for bondholders and the Country’s financial image.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has refused to have full ventilation with the Nation on the IMF conditions relative to the public debt.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister displays unruly parliamentary behaviour and unruly extra parliamentary behaviour even threatening to sell a fellow national.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has attempted to further increase the number of senators in parliament in the face of the IMF calls for a lessening of public expenditure.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has instituted the SIDF as an alternative consolidated fund to receive moneys which constitutionally are to be paid into the consolidated fund and thereby insulating the foundation from parliamentary and audit scrutiny and oversight.
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister has as Prime Minister and Minister of Elections publicly supported the previous Supervisor of Elections in defying the directive of the Electoral Commission with the result that hundreds of registered voters in Nevis were illegally removed from the Voters List in Nevis causing tremendous harm and damage to the reputation of the electoral system in St. Kitts and Nevis.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House expresses its concern and lack of
confidence in the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Honourable House calls for the immediate resignation of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas as Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis”.
This is also why, said a PAM official at one of its recent public meetings, the people were invited to support the march of no confidence, which was due to commence at 4:30pm on Friday, 11th January, from Greenlands Park, travelling across Cayon Street, into West Independence Square and ending on Bank Street, with a political meeting.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister has been seeking to mend fences with Sam Condor, though he fired him Wednesday morning as Leader of Government Business in Parliament and by the evening, during a party meeting of supporters in Condor’s West Basseterre Constituency, tried to embrace and encourage reconciliation; which some say was carefully rebuffed by Mr. Condor. The ruling Labour party is also schedule to host a special convention this Sunday, 13th January, and some are already speculating that an attempt will be made to oust Condor and Harris from the party.