“I am not at all confident that these changes announced yesterday would strengthen the federation’s ability to meet the tough challenges that we face right now with respect to crime,” said Richards.
Richards admitted that “Every Prime Minister has the authority to change his Cabinet, especially when he is dissatisfied with ministers. However, the Prime Minister’s decision announced yesterday to strip former National Security Minister Sam Condor of responsibility of the defence and the police force, while praising him lavishly, seems to be unusually senseless and capricious, even for our Prime Minister.”
In essence, the Deputy Prime Minister was left with a greatly reduced ministry, and the responsibility of the Prime Minister was literally trebled, argued the PAM Deputy Leader.
The Constituency Five Representative added, “Prime Minister Douglas admits that he has a troubled ministry of finance to cope with, and is so unequal to the task that he needs the assistance of the IMF. He has now added these two large areas of responsibility to his burdens; this coupled with his spectacular failure when he held the responsibility of National Security prior, utterly defies logic and further retards any progress in this area. While the recent spate of murders was taking place the Prime Minister was on vacation abroad and refused to return despite numerous calls for him to do so. The Prime Minister’s cool response to the surge in homicide recently would naturally lead one to suspect that he has not developed any more skills in the area of National security than he possessed formerly.”
Richards indicated that the Deputy Prime Minister, Sam Condor is currently piloting the Gang (Prohibition and Prevention) bill through the National Assembly, and that he formally welcomed the new Commissioner of Police just yesterday, and he was instrumental in developing several policies in response to our current crisis. “Now we are confronted with an abrupt change of minister, and the Deputy Prime Minister has very little real work to do on a daily basis,” argued Richards.
There is no stability in the area of national security and this will only further undermine the efforts of the constabulary, said the politician.
“This inexplicable reassignment drastically diminishes the Deputy Prime Minister without significantly addressing any of the pertinent issues which has been plaguing the exercise of crime solving in St. Kitts – Nevis, one of which is the high incidence of political interference. This is especially poignant in light of the fact that the Minister and the permanent secretary have been wrangling publicly and the minister was widely believed to be dissatisfied with her performance,” he stated.
Richards is also of the opinion that the Ministerial Task Force which announced by the Prime Minister to fight crime is just another avenue through which the Police Force can be interfered with, by a group of governing politicians. “Within that task force there is no member of the opposition, there is no member of the NGOs and notably there is no member representing the youth of this nation. The make-up of the Task Force is short sighted as the problems of crime come mainly from the youth and that voice is needed,” stated Richards.
He suggested that the Task Force should be expanded to include a member from the Opposition, a representative from the NGO’s, a representative from the Police and another from the Defense force, as well as customs and lastly but by no means least a young person representing the youth. This he said would endear more confidence in the task force and it will also enable much more varying and creative ideas in dealing with the crime situation
Finally, the PAM Deputy said “Coming on the heels of the Hon. Sam Condor’s giving up of his party position in the Labour Party’s last conference, it really begs the question if the Prime Minister is looking out for the national interest of St. Kitts-Nevis, or if this re-shuffling and announcement of new committees is a political exercise rather than an exercise in good governance.”