Friday was also the Third Anniversary of the last elections held in 2010.
The bad blood and fractured relationship between the two was evident for many years, but it gained a momentum of its own during the past three months. But it has not been a fight only between the two ministers. It runs much deeper. It also includes the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of the ruling Labour Party, Mr. Sam Condor. Condor has gotten more than his share of what he himself has described in the past as disrespect from the Prime Minister.
Not only was he unceremoniously stripped of key portfolios just over a year ago, when the Prime Minister, in a surprised move, went on radio, unknowingly to Condor, to dismiss him as the Minister of National Security, but it also included interference in the operations of his (Condor’s) ministries, as complained by Condor. This happened although both men had only hours before attended and presided over two major national security events, including the swearing in of a new Police Commissioner. Later in the year, the Prime Minister was accused by Condor of opening a Consulate in Dubai, though he Condor, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was not consulted on the actual date for the commencement of the operations of the office, nor was he aware of the fact that the consulate was to be headed by the mother of the children of the Prime Minister.
Then in January this year, Dr. Douglas moved against Mr. Condor again, this time stripping him of his role as Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, giving that responsibility to Patrice Nisbett.
Now the attention has been turned, for the moment, on Senior Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, who like Condor, has spoken out against various legislative measures being attempted and some carried out already by the government. These include the decision to swap over 1,200 acres of government land for debt forgiveness with National Bank; and a new Bill to increase, by 100%, the number of unelected senators in the parliament.
Dr. Douglas told the nation in his media address Friday night that, “Indeed the opposition by Senior Minister Harris in particular, has become more and more vocal and intense and it is accompanied by political activity in the wider community aimed at undermining the programmes and initiatives of the Government. It seems quite clear that Senior Minister Harris does not regard himself as being bound by the collective responsibility of the Cabinet and this could become disruptive to the smooth flow of government business.”
Douglas continued, “In fact, based on my interaction with the Senior Minister Harris in recent months, I have formed the view that the Senior Minister will not participate meaningfully in the Government unless he is appointed Prime Minister. However, the Labour Party is a longstanding institution with strong democratic traditions that outline the processes by which one moves into a position of leadership in the Party. It is not within my power to grant Party leadership to anyone. It is the members of the Party that must do so. Similarly, it is not in my power to leave position of Prime Minister in my Will or to give to whomsoever I wish. The Prime Minister ship is not of a Dynasty or Monarchy. The choice of Prime Minister rests in the hand of the people of this country.”
However, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis do not vote directly for a Prime Minister. That position is filled by the elected members, anyone, whom the Governor General feels, commands a majority of support of the elected members of the parliament. The choice of prime minister therefore rests in the hands of the elected members of parliament and the judgment of the Governor General.
In terms of leadership of the Labour Party, former Cabinet Minister Dwyer Astaphan, who himself resigned from the government, just before the last elections, has accused the Prime Minister of reneging on a commitment to step aside for a new leader from within the ranks of the party. Astaphan has also claimed that Douglas, when asked about a succession plan, did indicate that he was thinking of identifying Senator Nigel Carty, as the future leader. Douglas though has denied making such commitment.
Dr. Douglas also disclosed that on Friday he asked the Governor General, Sir Edmund Lawrence, to revoke the appointment of Timothy Harris as a Minister of Government and he has acted accordingly, in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution.
“This action became necessary because of the need to ensure that the Government continues to function smoothly and that the investment climate is not unduly affected by the political manoeuvring that has become evident in recent months. Whatever the outcome of such political manoeuvring, it is my duty to ensure that the Government continues to carry out its mandate with a view towards advancing the quality of life of our people until the next General Election, whenever such Elections are held,” stated Dr. Douglas.
Douglas said to ensure that all functions of the Government are effectively performed he has also asked the Governor General to issue new Instruments to effect the following appointments:
Patrice Nisbett has been appointed Minister of Justice, Legal Affairs, International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Hence, he has been assigned some of the portfolios previously held by Timothy Harris.
Senator Nigel Carty has been appointed Minster of Education, Information, Agriculture, Marine Resources and Cooperatives.
“I have advised His Excellency the Governor General that the appointment of a new Senator to be assigned the portfolio of Attorney General will be necessary.
I will assume responsibility for the portfolio of Constituency Empowerment that was previously held by the Hon. Timothy Harris,” said Douglas.
There has been no reaction as yet from Dr. Harris.
Click link below for related story-Statement by Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, MP