According to the statement, this action reflects long-standing concerns amongst the Party membership regarding Dr. Harris’ performance as Party Chairman; a concern that was made official at the Party’s May 2012 Annual Conference, when there was a clearly expressed readiness amongst the membership to bring Cde Harris’ tenure as Party Chairman to an end. Indeed, another Party member was identified for the position as Party Chairman but in response to a specific request by Dr. Harris and in the interest of Party unity, the Party leadership and membership agreed to a new period of co-operation and cohesion. Based on the commitment given to the Conference delegates, the alternative nomination for Chairman of the Party was withdrawn.
The release continued, “The hoped-for co-operation and cohesion never materialized, and on November 6, 2012 the National Executive wrote to the Party Chairman expressing these concerns, seeking an explanation, and requesting a response within 14 days.”
To date, Dr. Harris has not responded to that letter. In fact, he claimed that he did not receive the letter – a letter that was delivered directly to his office, said the release.
“The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has long been known for its free, open, and egalitarian internal debates. We respect, welcome, and understand the importance of independent thinking if our Party is to maintain its strong tradition of service and leadership. Party Members and Leaders have been most alarmed, however, by Dr. Harris’ public distancing of himself from the aims and objectives of the Labour Party and from consensus positions of the Cabinet of which he is a part.”
And so, in our January 17th, 2013 National Executive meeting, it was decided that a discussion of an appropriate response to Cde. Harris’ public distancing of himself from the positions of the Party, of which he is a part, should be placed on the Agenda.
Dr. Harris was asked to recuse himself as Chair, for the duration of this discussion only.
This he vehemently resisted for over an hour, stated the release from the Party.
When eventually permitted to vote on the matter, the Party Executive decided to [i] give due notice to Chairman Harris that the National Executive would on Thursday January 24th discuss appropriate action in response to his publicly expressed differences with the Party and Cabinet, and [ii] give Chairman Harris an opportunity to say why this discussion should not take place.
On Thursday January 24th, the Party Secretary received, a mere three (3) hours before the slated meeting, a letter from Dr. Harris making numerous threats and demanding a response by 6:00 pm before the start of the meeting.
At last night’s meeting, nonetheless, in an overwhelming consensus, it was the view that the interests of the Party would be best served if Chairman Harris were no longer Chairman of the Party. The National Executive therefore voted in accordance with the Party’s Constitution to convene a Special Conference of the Party to consider this very urgent matter.