Harris, who is also the head of the People’s Labour Party, was addressing a large gathering from the apron of the historic High Court building in Nevis’ capital, as he indicated to the people that the signed Memorandum of Understanding is about creating a new and better relationship between the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Whatever may have been the issues of the past, we are determined that we shall put the differences of the past behind us, because only the future we have to consecrate. The past is the past. Tonight’s signing is about consecrating the future. It’s about creating a better relationship between the people of St. Kitts and the people of Nevis; between the Federal Government and the NIA,” Harris told the enlivened audience, who for the most part were dressed in white, the symbolic colour of Team Unity.
Harris also expressed gratitude to Premier Amory for his leadership and support.
“His calm. His wise counsel. His excellent temperament has ensured that we pursued this path thoughtfully, carefully and in a way that would redound to the people of Nevis and the people of St. Kitts,” Harris stated.
According to Premier Vance Amory of the Concerned Citizens Movement, the “historic signing ceremony… will change the direction and the future of our country,” as he described the MOU as something that was carefully considered.
“This agreement was signed in full view of thousands of you here in Charlestown. It was not something that was done in the dead of night and in secret. It is not something that was done as an emergency. There is no emergency here. This is something that we have thought out, something, which we know, the people of this country deserve and you need, and that is why we have done it,” Amory explained.
The premier indicated that the event was an example of how government should operate in the interest of the Federation.
“This is how we expect the business of the people and the business of this country to be done, transparently and with consideration for due process. It is a call for integrity, because this agreement would be given full publication… It is a new paradigm in how this country should be run.
“What we have done today is a call for honesty, and it is a call to provide a correction in our political history in St. Kitts and Nevis. We have had too much divisiveness, and it is time to bring divisiveness in St. Kitts and Nevis to an end,” the CCM leader stated.
Representing the People’s Action Movement, it leader, Shawn Richards, spoke directly to the concerns of the people of Nevis, as he explained that the MOU presented an opportunity of “building the bridges between St. Kitts and Nevis”.
“Our well thought out Accord and now this Memorandum of Understanding will bind the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis finally with real, true and equal standing. This MOU that we have just signed sets out an understanding that would govern the way Nevis is included and respected in our Federation.
“This MOU embodies the principles and values of dignity, pride, hope and love that is central to every Nevisian. Nevisians, we have heard your cries for better, stronger and fairer policies. Today, Team Unity is here to answer that cry,” said Richards.
He opined that the time was right to make a political change that would benefit citizens and residents in the quest to create a stronger nation.
“We call to action a long awaited consciousness that shifts from grief and despair to hope and progress. From second class citizens to first class citizens; from exclusion to inclusion in economic gains for all; from killing a nation to the rebirth of a brighter, stronger and progressive nation,” the PAM leader said at the ceremony.
Among the many ideals of the MOU, the document points to creating a better paradigm for governance in the Federation, for facing the country’s social, economic and political challenges and for ending the polarization, divisions, conflicts and intolerance that has characterized St. Kitts and Nevis politics and society in recent times.
The MOU indicates a commitment to and respect for the nation’s constitution, including respect for the values of democracy, justice, fairness, openness, tolerance, equality, respect of all persons and human rights
It further declares a commitment to create genuine, viable, sustainable and nationally acceptable solutions and to restore trust in government, engender a new political culture.
It calls for a unity government that would work together on a comprehensive program to address issues of job creation, the cost of living, local empowerment, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, food security, land distribution, poverty alleviation, education and health care.
It states that a Unity Government would establish a constitution commission to engage in widespread consultation as a prerequisite to constitutional reform, including issues of the right to recall non-performing representatives, establishing fixed dates for national and Nevis elections, setting term limits for the prime minister, reviewing the composition and functioning of an independent Electoral Boundaries Commission and Electoral Commission, as well as establishing clear procedures for a vote of no confidence.
The MOU speaks, also, to matters of revenue sharing, foreign representation abroad, devolution and other matters affecting the relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis.
The agreement took effect on its signing on 31st January, as signed by Shawn Richards, leader of the People’s Action Movement, Dr. Timothy Harris, leader of the People’s Labour Party and by Vance Amory, the leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement.