Statement by Dr The Hon Timothy Harris, Member of Parliament and Leader of Team Unity on Thursday, August 14, 2014 at Team Unity Headquarters

We became singularly focus on the inclusive development of our country and how to turn around an ailing economy and exorcise the debilitating partisan political tribalism that kept our people blinded to Party while our country’s democracy and good governance was dying a slow death.

We, the People’s Labour Party (PLP), the People’s Action Movement (PAM) and the Concerned Citizen Movement (CCM), came together.  We brave the challenges of ushering in a new political culture that promoted love for St Kitts and Nevis above all else, save the love of God.

Today it is this love for our country that causes us to schedule this Press Conference to alert and warn our beloved Citizens and residents, that another blow is being struck against our democracy and the Parliament, the fulcrum of people’s expression of their right to choose who to govern them.

The country is no doubt aware that one misleader and his cabal, stand in the way of the Motion of No Confidence (MONC) being accorded the priority it ought to in accordance with the Constitution, Westminster Parliamentary Democracy, and precedents and practices, all over the world of practising democracies.

We the majority of Members of Parliament have indicated to the Head of State that this regime has passed its expiration date.  From the moment we wrote him outlining that we will support the Motion of No Confidence and we do not support the incumbent Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s authority became invalidated.

We contend that the Prime Minister in such circumstances must debate the Motion of No Confidence or call fresh elections.  As a principled stand in defense of the people’s democracy, we said we will not legitimize an illegitimate regime and we will not engage in the debate of any bills other than the Motion of No Confidence.

Justice Ramdhani ruled on the Motion of No Confidence on February 12, 2014.  His landmark ruling stated interalia:

“the St Kitts and Nevis Constitution establishes a constitutional democracy defined by an effective representative government elected by free, fair and periodic elections. In this constitutional structure, the executive authority of government is vested in Her Majesty, but is for all practical purposes exercised by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The Constitution expressly provides that the appointment of Prime Minister is informed by the majority of elected member of the Assembly, and expressly clothes him with considerable executive authority giving him inter alia, the power of appointment and dismissal of all members of the Cabinet, and what business of the Government, if any, each member of his Cabinet should be given. Under this system of Government, the term of Prime Minister and his Cabinet is only validated by the support of a majority of the elected members of the Assembly; it is the mandate of the people, through the elected representatives that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet is given the right of government.

By a number of expressed provisions, the Constitution expressly stipulate that if a majority of the elected Representatives vote in favour of a Motion of No Confidence in the government, a Prime Minister and his Government will cease to have the right to govern. The Constitution expressly not only provides that on such vote the Prime Minister is to either resign or else parliament is dissolved, but it also express an urgency that should follow such a vote of No Confidence.

It would therefore make nonsense of these provisions if a majority of members of the elected Representatives may have lost confidence in the Government, and being ready and willing to vote on such a motion have requested that such a motion be placed on the Order Paper, but no steps are being taken to have such a motion debated and voted on within reasonable time as a matter of priority.

 There is accordingly to be derived from the text, structure and context of the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution, an implied substantive and procedural right in section 52(6) that each and every member of the National Assembly is entitled to request that a Motion of No Confidence be placed before the Assembly, and that such a motion must be accorded priority over other business by being scheduled, debated and voted on within a reasonable time given the programme of the Assembly.”

We believe in the context of this ruling, no business of Parliament ought to be transacted by the minority regime other than that to do with the Motion of No Confidence.  People are rightly disturbed that this regime, without a constitutional basis to govern has summoned a Parliament for next Monday, August 18, 2014. 

As if that was not bad and repulsive enough, this imposter regime has again showed scant regard for the law of the land by short serving the majority of Members of Parliament instead of providing at least seven (7) days notice of Parliament.  The lawless regime provided us on Tuesday, August 12th notice of a meeting on August 18, 2014.  To mask their dishonesty, the said notice which is dated August 08, 2014, is delivered by the very clerk of the House charged with dispatching it at least seven days in advance.  The basis of this provision is to give Members of Parliament adequate advance notice of Parliamentary meetings.   This is especially important where Parliament meets in the adhoc way it does here rather than regularly like in the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica.

  Would it take the Clerk of National Assembly four days to walk from Church Street to Fort Street?  Why deliver a letter dated August 08th on the 12th?

Another breach is the notice stated that Parliament will start at 9:00 a.m.  The law is that Parliament convenes no earlier than 10:00 a.m.  It will be decidedly wrong if Parliament were to make a mockery of the very laws it passes.

We are a country with the rule of law and not rule of men!  All then must respect the law especially those who have taken oath to do so.  Men must respect the law.  When laws are bad, or in need of reviewing, lawmakers change them.

These breaches of the law in relation to this notice are significant by themselves, but they are even more grave when construed in the context of a systematic pattern of lawlessness, serial breaches of the constitution relating to the tabling of the Motion of No Confidence (Section 52), the appointment of a Deputy Speaker (Section 32), the laying of Estimates within sixty days of the beginning of the year (Section 71), denial of our rights to hold public meetings contrary to sections of our Constitution.

We are fast becoming a lawless state where one delusional man thinks our country is his and he will do what he likes when he likes and NO Court, NO Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC), NO Christian Council, NOR Evangelical Association can stop him.  We want democracy.  We do not want dictatorship.  We want respect for laws, not disdain for laws.

We in Team Unity strongly urge the people to take a stand for their democracy before all is lost.  Now it is the selective upholding of the laws and constitution, next it will be the use of the coercive aims of the state to frame opponents, harass them and lock them up.  It is the use of VAT and Inland Revenue Department to harass opponents of the government.  We must not give in to this!

We in Team Unity are committed to do the best for this country we love.  Things must be done better and our country’s standard must never be the least common denominator of behavior, of conduct, of leadership, of accountability and democracy.

That is why Team Unity will ensure that there is no hide and seek with Parliamentary matters, no sneaking in of matters, no short service of notice to the Opposition and we are prepared to ensure that all documents for Parliament including the Order Paper and accompanying bills are served to each Member of Parliament at least 7 clear working days in advance of Parliament.

We are prepared for a Parliament properly meeting to pass bills with a majority of elected Members of Parliament (MPs) on the government’s side proposing and the minority of elected MPs opposing.  We will not stifle our conscience to the mockery taking place now where an illegitimate minority of five (5) proposes legislation for the lawful majority of six (6).  This is anathema to majority rule principle.  We cannot condone it.  We forcefully condemn it.  It makes a mockery of Parliament.  It is a tragedy and a travesty.

We serve notice that we do not consider ourselves bound by any agreement made by this illegitimate regime since our letters to Governor General indicating lack of support for Denzil Douglas as Prime Minister.

We serve notice that this government has no right to be passing laws.  It is an impostor.  It is a regime blinded by its outdated and corrupt modes of governance best amplified in petty dictatorships. It is a regime consumed with keeping our people down and then attempting to buy their votes at election time.  This is a recipe for permanent under-development and poverty.  No wonder then, there is so much hardship and suffering in our land.  These are the things which we must change.  To change these things, we must elect a Team Unity Government.  Let’s take a stand now. Tomorrow may be too late.  

We shall elaborate more on what our citizens should do at our meeting on Sunday 17th August at Market Street, Basseterre. We ask our citizens to be prepared to replace this illegitimate government at the soonest available time.  This government has lost its way.  We will work with the people to redeem our country.

Thank you.  May God bless you and may God bless St. Kitts and Nevis.




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