Commonwealth Secretariat offers help but ‘called-out’ on its silence

 

While the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, led by Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, called an emergency sitting of parliament to approve constituency boundary changes, opposition parliamentarians headed to the High Court to obtain an injunction against the report. This matter is now before the court, with the government’s legal team trying to convince the court to dismiss the injunction.

 

According Mr. Sharma, the Commonwealth is ready to provide assistance to St. Kitts and Nevis should it be requested.

 

“The Commonwealth remains ready to provide whatever support may be considered useful in assisting St Kitts and Nevis with upholding Commonwealth values,” said Sharma.

 

While Secretary-General Sharma welcomed movement towards constitutionally due elections, some citizens have criticized the organization’s silence on the stalled Motion of No Confidence that was brought before parliament by the majority of elected members. The opposition members had accused government of violating their constitutional rights by not allowing the motion to be heard.

 

But the secretary-general said that he recalled conversations with Prime Minister Douglas in which he had raised both the issue of electoral boundaries and the pending no-confidence motion. He said, also, that he recalled meetings with the leader of the opposition during his last visit to St Kitts and Nevis, and interactions between the Secretariat and other interested parties.

 

Earlier this week, a group of Civil Society organizations issued a statement condemning the manner in which the boundaries report was approved in parliament. It stated, among other things, that the actions of government were “a blatant disregard for the rights of all members of the National Assembly with which the motion was put to the vote”.

 

The release further stated that the 16th January parliamentary session “was a sad day for our democracy, such as it remains, and threatens the rule of law”.

 

Meanwhile, legal luminary and president of the St. Kitts-Nevis Bar Association Charles Wilkin, QC, voiced his support for the Civil Society grouping, and called the emergency sitting of parliament “an assault on the fundamental principles of representative democracy”.

 

But the four-member Civil Society grouping has been criticized as “hypocritical” for not speaking out to injustices carried out under the previous administration, a charge that Wilkin strongly refutes.

 

“It is absolute nonsense to suggest that the civil society organization did not speak out against past injustices.  Anyone who makes that allegation either does not know the facts, or has had a convenient lapse of memory,” Wilkin stated.

 

Articles condemning the St. Kitts-Nevis government’s actions in the now dissolved parliament have appeared this week in several online regional media outlets.

 

 

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