Thousands gathered at Greenlands Park in Basseterre for the much anticipated launch of what opposition politicians are calling, “Team Unity”, which is a coalition of three political parties, namely, the People’s Action Movement, (PAM), Concerned Citizens Movement, (CCM), and the People’s Labour Party, (PLP). These parties are on a mission to dislodge the 18 year old administration of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and have decided to put aside their differences to unite against the incumbent which they view, both as a minority and illegitimate government.
It was an atmosphere that was quite similar to a carnival celebration, with flag waving, calypso music, food and drink stalls, mixed with much on stage theatre and pageantry.
However, as each politician spoke, they reminded the audience that these were serious times that have caused the country to slip into deep economic and financial turmoil, under a leader they described as insensitive and unfit to find the solutions to the nation’s problems, especially, as they claimed, since it was the same leader whose deliberate actions and mismanagement that caused the declining fortunes of a once thriving economy.
The ‘big news’ of the evening however was the official announcement that Dr. Timothy Harris, of the People’s Labour Party, will be the leader of Team Unity, heading into the next election. This was not too much of a surprise for most in attendance and the thousands who no doubt followed the proceedings on live radio (VON Radio, WINN FM, Sugar City FM), and internet video stream. It had been wide speculated for months since hints were being made in many quarters that the former senior Cabinet member of the Douglas government, was already tipped to lead.
There was still much celebration when the Deputy leader of the CCM and Deputy premier of Nevis, Mark Brantley, introduced the final speaker of the evening, Dr. Harris, as the next Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Harris then went on to reveal a number of new policies and relief measures that the hopeful Unity Government would deliver to the people of the twin-island federation.
It was also revealed that the Unity team has selected two deputy leaders in the persons of Brantley and Shawn Richards, who is the Political Leader of PAM.
All potential candidates for the coalition of parties spoke at the rally, except CCM leader Vance Amory, who is also the Premier of Nevis and was away on official business. Also not addressing the crowd was the candidate who would represent PAM and the Unity team in Constituency Number Six. Though the candidate has already been identified and is normally only referred to as “Mr. V”, his official naming has been withheld by the party due to his current work status with the government and as a measure, some opposition sources say, to avoid him being discriminated against. It is expected though that “Mr. V” will be made known closer to the official announcement of the date for election.
A message was read on behalf of the candidate by the Chairperson of PAM, Cyndie Demming, while Amory was introduced via video and a message read on his behalf by the Chairman of the CMM Steadman Tross. Both Amory and Mr. V pledged support for the unity construct and have committed to the fulfillment of the objectives of the coalition of parties.
One significant endorsement that was broadcast at Thursday night’s meeting came from the First prime M minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and former PAM leader, Dr. Sir Kennedy Simmonds, who told the mammoth crowd that the Unity Team has the potential to restore integrity in the country and transform the dwindling economic failures into more prosperous experiences, similar to his tenure as Head of Government from 1980-1995.
Dr. Simmonds said that the decision of the opposition politicians to come together for the good of the country is a demonstration of courage and patriotism.