Dr. Douglas was reacting to the statements of Mr. Astaphan, that during a private discussion between both gentlemen, a few years ago, just before the 2004 General Elections, when Douglas was told that the time was fast approaching for the party to establish a plan of succession, he was advised by Douglas that he was seriously looking to Carty as the likely person, to not only take up the leadership of the ruling party, but also the position of Prime Minister.
Astaphan said that he was very shocked with Douglas’ comment, especially since no mention was made about the potential of other Labour Party officials and Government Ministers, such as the so called Senior Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris and Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor.
However, after keeping quiet on the matter for weeks, Douglas on Tuesday 10th May, 2011, while on his weekly radio program, Ask the PM, on ZIZ, categorically denied that he ever had such discussions with Astaphan or anyone else.
This rebuke of Astaphan came ahead of today’s (Sunday 15th May) Labour Party convention at which time, new executive officers of the party are to be elected.
“There is no truth whatsoever that I ever sat in any privacy with any former minister or present minister to discuss my succession with regard to Nigel Carty,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“Succession in the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is determined by the membership of the party,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
There have also been claims, leading up to this weekend’s convention, scheduled for the Marriott Hotel, that efforts are being made to expel Astaphan from the Party.
Some observers on local talk radio are suggesting that Douglas is interested in getting rid of Astaphan, in light of his recent political attacks and calls for the Prime Minister to step aside, both as Labour Party Leader and Head of Government. No evidence however has been provided to support these claims.
Douglas has recently gone public by outlining some of the problems he said that he once had with Astaphan, as a member of the Cabinet. Douglas gave indication that Astaphan was constantly a “thorn” in the Cabinet.
On the other hand, Astaphan has made known his dissatisfaction with what he called the Prime Minister’s refusal to provide the resources and support, for programs and policies that he (Astaphan) was trying to attempt, especially as Minister of National Security.
But Douglas has gone as far as to say that his former comrade has “neither credibility nor virginity”.
When Astaphan announced that he was leaving the Douglas Cabinet, about a year before the last General Elections in January, 2010, Douglas told media representatives in a press conference, that he and Astaphan had no bad blood and that he wished Astaphan all the best for the future. Even then, however, political observers were skeptical.