Dr. Harris says Opposition not condoning Monday’s Parliament meeting; MONC must take precedence

At a press conference held yesterday (14th August) at Team Unity Command Centre, Harris stated that the government continues to breach parliamentary protocols, with the most recent being Opposition Parliamentarians were neither given the traditional seven-day notice of impending meetings nor have they seen the Order Paper.

He is adamant that the Motion of No Confidence take precedence over all other intended matters in Parliament and the powers that be should do the proper thing by having it tabled.

“…Two Motions of No Confidence stand before this Parliament. This is unheard of anywhere else, and we are saying we can’t condone that. We would wish the Parliament go to meet every day if there were business to conduct…we have no problem. But the Parliament must do the proper thing! And what is proper is for the Parliament to accord the priority which it must in relation to the two Motions of No Confidence now before it. That is why I went to Justice Ramdhani’s judgment. He said explicitly that it makes a mockery. And it is this mockery we are objecting to.”

On 12th February 12, 2014 the case of the Motion of No Confidence was heard before Justice Darshan Ramdhani, whose landmark ruling stated inter alia: “the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution establishes a constitutional democracy defined by an effective representative government elected by free, fair and periodic elections.

Both the claimants and defendants had claimed victory but the latter had since appealed the judgment.

Asked if the Opposition Parliamentarians were happy about the upcoming sitting, Harris vehemently responded in the negative, adding that what the government intends to do is a deviation from the common rule of law.

“We are objecting now as we did last week and as we have been doing for the last 20 months to the Douglas regime and the Speaker making a mockery, a sham of Parliament, because this is an executive, according to Justice Ramdhani, not according to me. A useless instrument, according to a Chief Justice!

“We are not condoning it. We are saying this is the priority laid down by the law and the people are demanding that this must be the priority. When that is dealt with then the Parliament could go on and do those normal things. This is an anomaly to parliamentary practices.”

When reminded by a member of the media that Justice Ramdhani’s judgment in the matter was appealed, Dr. Harris said: “Until it is overturned, it is the law of the land. You have had eminent and prominent jurists…Charles Wilkin, Q.C.; Emile Ferdinand, Q.C.; and Tapley Seaton, Q.C. who, when we had that matter pending, said there was nothing before the courts then or now that ought to or could prevent the Speaker from convening. That is uncontested law. And the judge said that. What we are having is a sham being acted out and efforts by the government to delay the Motion. Subterfuge being used…and giving the appearance of normality in relation to an abnormal Parliament. That is where the objection is and we are objecting that.”

He noted that the Opposition Members were elected by the people and that they are the majority in Parliament, but the government does not want to admit the fact.

“We are the majority of the Parliament here. When you do the maths and you look over and you see five people, five shaky people and six people solidly anchored in the support of the country, and five proposing and six opposing. That is not how normal parliament works. That is what we are taking an objection to and we want the country to take the strongest possible objection to it. It must not happen! And Ramdhani, again, went through that. He said it was alright if you are over there and you did not decide that a time to put a stop to this minority rule that come.

“By our letter to the GG, we indicated that. And that is why the abnormality can’t be condoned, and we are rejecting it and objecting to it. It is bad for democracy. We don’t want this precedent.” 

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