Arriving at Port Zante, the opposition members found Prime Minister Douglas in a store known as Larry’s Fine Jewelry. With Dr. Douglas were his Deputy Prime Minister, Earl Asim Martin, managers of the store and a few other friends and business associates, comprising a team of about 8-9 persons.
It is not known what the group was doing in the store, hours after being closed, but a bottle of wine and what looked like cake or pastries were on one of the showcases, giving the impression that they were socializing.
On the outside were two police body guards assigned to the Prime Minister. They and Dr. Douglas and his group appeared to be caught off-guard and it took a while before they could come to terms that they were “under siege” by a group of about 100 opposition supporters and their leaders, including Dr. Timothy Harris, leader of PLP, former PAM leader, Lindsay Grant, current Deputy PAM leaders Eugene Hamilton and Jonelle Powell, PAM candidate, Ian Patches Liburd, and later on, PAM leader, Shawn Richards.
The group shouted, “Douglas must go” as the body guards increased in numbers, eventually calling for re-inforcement from colleagues in the Special Branch which is detailed to protect the Prime Minister.
On the inside the Prime Minister made his best efforts to remain and appear calm, but his facial expressions told a different story that some opposition supporters described as “fear”. Once Dr. Douglas recognized the players involved, especially his once close comrade and Cabinet colleague, Tim Harris, and the defiant former PAM leader Grant, his posture was changed and he turned to his BlackBerry phone, making what seemed like numerous calls.
The security detail increased to about seven as they too frantically made calls for additional support. Shortly after, two other vehicles packed with police arrived on the scene, bringing their total presence to approximately 30, some fully armed with weapons and batons. Minutes later, a pick-up filled with soldiers appeared but they remained mostly in the background.
The crowd was getting more agitated and determined in their chants, accusing the Prime Minister of various failings in government, but they maintained their calls for “Douglas to go”.
The minutes ticked away. First 15, then 30 and eventually after about one hour of keeping their ground, the police managed to move the more vocal members of the crowd away from the store, pushing them towards the Pelican Mall.
During the period, Dr. Douglas remained on his BB and when he did click “end call’ he tried to joke with his companions to give some assurance that all was well.
When Prime Minister Douglas did eventually exit the store with all of his associates, the police drew closer and by that time so did a handful of his supporters, some dressed in red. Once outside, the exchange of words between Douglas and opposition members ensued. The Prime Minister challenged his opponents, “Meet me half way” with hands and voices being raised in a mode not to dissimilar to a fight about to start. A response “in kind” came shooting back from PAM candidates Ian Liburd and Lindsay Grant who began to move closer and the Prime Minister too made his initial moves.
Thankfully, in step members of the Special Forces who were also on site. They then escorted the Prime Minister to his vehicle about 50m away as the opposition members followed but the two groups were kept apart by the police on duty.
How the opposition knew where the Prime Minister was at that specific time, is still unknown but it speaks to their high level of contacts and the intelligence that is being provided to the group.
With only three days in the New Year, there is little doubt that the coming weeks and months will produce more dramatic episodes that are sure to once again create great tension in St. Kitts.