May 29, 2020
In a further attack on the democratic interests of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, outgoing Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris has revoked an earlier invitation to the Organisation of American States (OAS) to send an election observer mission to St. Kitts and Nevis.
This abhorrent development was brought to the attention of the Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party in a letter from the OAS Secretary General in response to a letter that was sent by the Labour Party to that Organisation on Sunday, May 24, 2020.
In its letter to the Organisation of American States, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party expressed its “most ardent disquiet” regarding recent actions taken by Dr. Harris to use the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve an unfair political advantage in the upcoming general election. These included, among others, the announcement of the dissolution of the National Assembly more than 24 hours after coming into effect; the imposition of a six-month State of Emergency just prior to the announcement of general elections as well as well-founded concerns about the management of the Electoral Office.
In the highest appreciation of the Organization of American States as the standard-bearer in election observation, Dr. Denzil Douglas expressed his “hope” along with the Executive and supporters of the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party “that the OAS will be actively observing the 2020 elections in St Kitts and Nevis. Consequently, and in that hope, I look forward to an opportunity to discuss the issues raised herein with such a mission, and to being afforded the space to amplify and support the points outlined.”
In response to the Party’s May 24th correspondence the OAS Secretary-General, H.E. Luise Almagro confirmed, in a letter dated May 28th, that he had accepted a May 19th invitation by Dr. Harris for the OAS to deploy an Electoral Observation Mission to the June 5,2020 General Elections. According to the Secretary-General, “the team of observers, which is currently observing the post-electoral phase in Suriname, was expected to travel to St. Kitts and Nevis. Funding for the mission had been secured and the team had been cleared of COVID-19 after the team had been repeatedly tested in Suriname”. Following his May 20th response, the Secretary-General was informed by the government on May 27th that “following the establishment of a 14-day quarantine, it would not be feasible for the observer mission to travel to St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Harris’ disinvitation of the OAS Observer Mission was done under the pretense of the need for COVID-19 quarantine protocols, but Almagro said in his letter to Dr. Douglas that “OAS/GS regrets that a practical solution was not put in place like was the case in Suriname to allow our observers to deploy, but is respectful of the sovereign decision.”
“I am very, very concerned that something sinister is being planned. The electorate, citizens and residents, civil society, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and friendly countries of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis must be informed of this latest development in the saga of the outgoing Harris administration’s attempts to hold on to power in the face of a sure defeat at the polls on June 5th ,” said Dr. Douglas.
“This is further vindication of our court action to bring an end to the unconstitutional State of Emergency as evidence mounts that it is being used by Harris for an evil purpose and to give the administration an unfair advantage in the upcoming elections”, Dr. Douglas added.