Liburd Throws Cold Water on Unity Government Concept

The latest high profile politician to share her views on the subject is the Parliamentary Representative for Central Basseterre and the Minister of Health in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, Ms. Marcella Liburd. While speaking on local radio station, Freedom Fm, on Tuesday 12th February, 2013, Ms. Liburd accused the proponents of the unity government concept of being driven by hatred.

Liburd was somewhat sarcastic when she said in the interview that “I am happy to have the unity government; it might sound very nice out there. Unity is always a very positive word.”

It is obvious from the views tabled by the Minister that she is not convinced that the unity concept can and will work in St. Kitts and Nevis between the parties advancing the argument, but she admitted, “Anything is possible”, when asked if she does not think that PAM, CCM and others opposed to the present government, can team up to form such a government.

“What I am saying is that unity sounds very, very, nice. But it seems to me that what they are saying is that PAM really is dead. PAM cannot form a government, so they have to have unity. As a matter of fact when you hear some of the PAM representatives you think that the unity government is already there and they already know who in it. So I don’t know what the ‘others’ ‘kind a running for’ (be)cause they done have this unity government, they know already who is in this unity government.”

But Liburd also added that “I don’t think that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis will fall for it; because what you have are persons with different agendas. The only thing that unifies them is hatred of Dr. Douglas. That is the unifying force. And you can’t have any government that is based on that sort of spite. Government must be based on positive things.”

Though the public and some politicians have been talking about the unity approach, no official declaration has been made by the various groups that are alleged to be involved, outlining what exactly would be the construct of this style of governance. No leader of the group has also been agreed to either and Liburd therefore used the occasion of her interview to throw political punches by stating that “Some want to be the historic first Nevisian Prime Minister and Kittitians must beware”. However she did not go on to explain what Kittitians must beware of given that someone from Nevis may want to be Prime Minister.

Though she did not also name anyone from Nevis in particular, some observers have interpreted her words to be reflective of perceived ambitions of members of the Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM; one of the groups named as advocates of the unity approach. CCM is led by Vance Amory with Mark Brantley as his Deputy.

Speaking with one Nevisian politician, to get a response to the Minister’s comments, they wondered if the Minister was suggesting that because they are from Nevis, they ought not to aspire to the highest political office in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

As the unofficial political campaign continues however, more and more ordinary folks in the national community have been expressing their views rather positively about the concept of a unity government. They are perhaps now waiting on the politicians involved to see what would be the benefits of such an administration.

However, in a true sense the concept of a government comprised of different parties is not new to St. Kitts and Nevis. A Unity Government really is just a fancy name for a coalition government and St. Kitts and Nevis has had this type of government in the past. It existed from 1980-1995 when PAM and the Nevis Reformation Party, NRP, formed and operated a coalition government. Then in 2010, the Labour Party and the NRP did likewise when MP Patrice Nisbett, of the NRP, became a member of the Federal Cabinet of Dr. Denzil Douglas. On that occasion, when the appointment of Nisbett as Attorney General and Minister of Justice & Legal Affairs, was being made, the Prime Minister justified the decision as one of unity, in the governance of the country.

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