Over 70% of the voters who live in St. Kitts and Nevis believe “it is time for Douglas to step aside and allow someone else to run the country”.
Let’s face it, Douglas has not fallen from grace just because he is an incompetent manager as the polls indicate that only 35% of voters disagree with the proposition that “Douglas is corrupt” and barely 29% agree that “Douglas has credibility and generally tells the truth to the people of St. Kitts & Nevis”. Those are some of the reasons why Douglas is being rejected all over St. Kitts and Nevis, except in his home Constituency (#6).
That notwithstanding, a never contrite Douglas persists with his doctrine of deceit in an apparent desperate effort to hold on to public office and to hide truths that a Unity Government will unearth, whenever the people get the opportunity to vote at the next election.
Douglas seemingly pays scant attention to public opinion and espouses no regrets for taking this country on a wrong and dangerous social, economic and political track. As he tries again on the current political campaign to lie his way into the hearts of the nation, Douglas characteristically demonstrates little capacity to learn from his mistakes. Some three years ago in Parliament, the whole world listened to an insensitive Douglas say if he had to make the “public debt me a%#e” statement again he would do it in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, he said if he was not in Parliament he would repeat it at that very time! He also audaciously used the opportunity of another meeting of Parliament to say if he had to spend our money again, he would do it the same way, notwithstanding his callous and reckless spending habits got this country to the unenviable position of being the second most-indebted country in the world and ushered in an IMF austerity program that has consumers and businesses reeling from a 17% VAT, an 85% increase in electricity and dramatic increase in social services levy, just to name a fe
Of late the Douglas purveyors of deceit have resorted to labeling Team Unity members as hypocrites on the matter of land for debt swap in Nevis and flip floppers on the Motion of No Confidence.
In a subsequent article I will deal with the land for debt issue in Nevis but, given the critical importance of the Motion of No Confidence to our institution of democracy, it is imperative that I address that issue first. I will start with a timeline of events associated with the Motion:
11th December 2012: Motion of No Confidence in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis under the Leadership of Denzil Douglas submitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly by Opposition Leader, the Hon. Mark Brantley.
December 2012: Speaker of the National Assembly indicates that the Motion of No Confidence filed with the Clerk was in order and that it would be heard at an early date once the exigencies of Government business had been disposed of.
18th December 2012: In an address at the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC) Christmas luncheon, Denzil Douglas recognizes that the Motion of No Confidence “could erode investor confidence in our country”, pledges to do all he could to “avoid such damage to the investment climate and the economy” and says, “the Motion of No Confidence should be heard expeditiously”.
31st January 2013: President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce writes to Denzil Douglas, reminding him of his commitment with regard the hearing of the Motion of No Confidence and shares the concern expressed by the CIC membership that “the delay in the consideration by the National Assembly of the motion of no confidence for the full month of January has already affected the investment climate and that further delay could cause long lasting damage.” The CIC President writes further, “the Board unanimously supports that view”, and calls on Denzil Douglas to “do all within your power to ensure that the motion of no confidence in your Government is brought before the National Assembly without further delay”.
3rd February 2013: In a joint letter to Denzil Douglas, the Chairperson of the St. Kitts Christian Council and the President of the St. Kitts Evangelical Association say, “we are of the firm view that we are facing a serious political crisis. Sir, as was also shared with you at our recent meeting, the constitution makes provision to address and respond appropriately to this political crisis. The St Kitts Christian Council and the St Kitts Evangelical Association therefore call upon you to bring to parliament and have debated the Motion of No Confidence without further delay and before any other business is brought to the parliament. This we believe to be in the best interest of our nation at this very trying time. Mr Prime Minister, we solicit your immediate attention and action to this matter as we consider it of highest priority and urgency.
11th February 2013: President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association writes to the Speaker of the National Assembly reminding him, “you are guardian of the National Assembly and have it within your power to bring the Motion before the Assembly. We call on you to do so without further delay. Such delay will undermine the democratic principles on which our Federation is founded.”
11th February 2013: President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association writes to Denzil Douglas and say, “public statements made by you suggest that you exercise ultimate control over the timing of the sitting of the Assembly for the consideration of the Motion of No Confidence in your Government. As far as we know such control should lie with the Speaker. However if you do in fact exercise such control we call on you, for the reasons stated in our letter to the Speaker, to have the motion brought before the National Assembly without further delay.”
1st March 2013: Six Representatives who form the Elected Majority in the National Assembly all sign a letter to the Governor-General and state unequivocally that it is their “firm intention to vote in favour of the Motion of No Confidence and as such, the Government of Prime Minister Douglas had lost its legitimacy to continue to govern.” They ask the Governor-General to “use his good offices to urge Dr. Douglas to bring the Motion of No Confidence to the floor of the National Assembly to be determined.”
7th March 2013: Coalition of St. Kitts and Nevis Non-Governmental Organisations writes to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, copied to the Heads of other Regional and International Organisations, informing them of the “situation in The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis arising from the tabling by the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (our unicameral Parliament) of a Motion of no confidence in the Government of the Federation…”
April 2013: Having exhausted all other available options, the six Representatives who form the Elected Majority in the National Assembly seek the “intervention of the High Court to establish that their Constitutional rights to have the Motion of No Confidence heard, were being violated, and for it to make Declarations accordingly.”
11th June 2013: Six Representatives who form the Elected Majority in the National Assembly write again to the Speaker and to the Governor-General, stating their total dissatisfaction with the failure of the Speaker and the (illegitimate) Prime Minister Douglas to “abide by the well-worn traditions of Parliamentary Democracy throughout CARICOM and everywhere that the Westminster system of Government is practiced.”
July 2013: Speaker of the National Assembly responds to the Opposition letter of 11th June 2013 and states that he cannot now put the matter on the Order Paper because, in his opinion, the matter is sub judice.
July 2013: The six Representatives who form the Elected Majority in the National Assembly file a Notice of Discontinuance of the matter with the Court. Dr Timothy Harris, Leader of the People’s Labour Party says, “the government side is continuing to attempt to frustrate legitimate efforts to have the motion of no confidence heard.”
July 2013: Member of Parliament for Constituency 5 files another Motion of No Confidence in the (illegitimate) Douglas administration.
July 2013: The (illegitimate) Douglas administration applies to the High Court to have the Opposition Notice of Discontinuance set aside.
October 2013: The High Court in Basseterre sets a “status hearing” in relation to the (illegitimate) Douglas administration’s application to have the Opposition Notice of Discontinuance set aside. All parties agree to have all High Court matters related to the Motion of No Confidence heard in High Court on 16th December 2013.
17th October 2013: At the 2013 Christmas Luncheon, President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce says, “the CIC is alarmed that this matter continues to drag on to the detriment of the economy, the investment and the good name of our country”.
November 2013: President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association states that the Motion of No Confidence is not sub judice. “There is no law which could have precluded the Speaker in the interim from bringing the Motion before the House”, he says.
17th November 2013: Former Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Lester Bird says, “the democratic process in St. Kitts and Nevis is being undermined”.
After months of excuses and histrionics from Douglas and Speaker Martin, the parties will now have their day in court on December 16. Meanwhile, some are wondering if Team Unity is “changing its mind” about the court handling of the Motion of No Confidence. It is worth remembering that in 1993, Denzil Douglas “incited” unrest and public disorder in Basseterre and proceeded to “overthrow” the constitutionally legitimate, minority administration of Sir Kennedy Simmonds. As some would say, “Douglas mash up Basseterre just to get into power”. In 1995, the Labour Party won the election, a Douglas administration was sworn into office and as the polls have indicated, Douglas has since “destroyed” the country.
In contrast, Dr. Harris and the members of Team Unity want a just and peaceful end to the current political impasse. There is no need for a repeat of the 1993 civil unrest and violent overthrow. Whenever he gets the courage to face reality, the people of this country will go to the polls and peacefully remove Denzil Douglas from the Office of Prime Minister that he now occupies illegitimately.
Let’s not forget that, in the face of the Motion of No Confidence, Denzil Douglas could have prorogued parliament, as provided in Section 46(1) of our Constitution, and given himself one hundred and eighty days to find his “political legs”. Instead, he has ignored all democratic norms and traditions with regard the hearing of Motions of No Confidence and has violated Section 52(2) of our Constitution that requires the Prime Minister to “command the support of the majority of Representatives” elected to the National Assembly.
So, in the face of a Motion of No Confidence in his administration, Denzil Douglas breaks the law and gets more time, almost one year to try to reinvent himself and frustrate voters in the interim, than if he had followed the law! What message is a pretentious “Lawmaker-In-Chief” sending to the law-abiding citizens of this country? Clearly, Douglas has reached the end of his career and it is time for him to exit the political stage.
The members of TEAM UNITY are not changing their minds in handling the Motion of No Confidence. It should be evident, by their actions, that they are motivated by patriotism and will use all peaceful means to bring a just end to the current political stalemate. TEAM UNITY’s approach affirms the virtue of PATIENCE.