Government Would Not Automatically Fall if NRP Loses By- Election Suggest Local Lawyers

Simply put, the argument being advanced is that even if the ruling Nevis reformation Party, NRP were to lose the St. John’s Constituency seat in the upcoming by-election, it does not mean that the government would lose power automatically.

At least two lawyers in St. Kitts and Nevis have supported that view which has not been easily embraced by many supporters of the opposition party in Nevis, the Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM, who since the ruling in a recent Appeals Court matter, are eager to see the fall of the Joseph Parry led NRP Administration, which has been in office since 2006, but returned for its second term just last year after a controversial 11th July poll.

President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association Charles Wilkin Q.C explained that if Mark Brantley of the CCM, wins the planned by-election against the NRP’s Hensley Daniel, it does not mean the current Nevis Island Administration would collapse the following day.

Wilkin on Tuesday this week indicated in a radio interview that even if a by-election changed the balance of power, the government will not automatically be dissolved and Premier Parry and his ministers would remain in office as a minority administration.

But Wilkin further explained that Mr. Parry could elect to resign as Premier, if they lost the poll, or they may decide to face a vote of no confidence in the newly constituted Island Assembly, in which his party would only have two elected members, as opposed to the CCM’s three. If a meeting of the Assembly is called and the Motion of No Confidence vote succeeds, then Governor General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian would have no option but to appoint a member of the CCM, to be Premier and form a new Administration. However, there is another view that suggests that what the Governor General could also do is have the Assembly dissolved in preparation for a general election in the five constituencies of the island.

Also supporting the position that the government would not automatically fall is former minister in the Federal Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Dwyer Astaphan, who is also a lawyer. Astaphan’s submission is somewhat similar to that presented by Wilkin.

Astaphan said because there previously was an administration in place and it is a by- election that was called to resolve the matter of one seat, there is a difference in law, in comparison for instance, if it were a fresh general election and the NRP won 2 while the CCM won 3 seats. In that scenario, Astaphan indicated that it would be most likely that since the CCM would have the most single block of seats, (following a fresh general poll), it would be expected that the Governor General would determine that a member of the CCM, perhaps Mr. Vance Amory, as leader, would command the support of a majority of elected representatives and would therefore be invited to form a new Administration.

He repeated however, that the present situation sees an incumbent already in place and so it would not automatically mean that NRP would be out of office. This however would be a very unlikely situation that one would expect in Nevis. Many observers are of the view that they would expect that Mr. Parry would resign as Premier if Mr. Daniel is not successful in the by-election. Parry has however already hinted that he feels that every single voter on Nevis should help to determine the way forward; which some have interpreted to mean that he prefers to call a general election and not a by-election.

The need for the by-election resulted after a Court of Appeals ruling on Monday 27th August, upholding a lower court decision from March, 2012, indicating that due to major election irregularities, the St. John’s seat originally declared in favour of Daniel, should be declared null and void, and that a new election must be called within 90 days.

Wilkin also called for nonpartisan way forward in this, because if it is not done, there is a possibility that going into next year, there could be thousands of objections when the focus should be getting the economy back on track and getting governance improved.

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