St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party candidates are nominated today – Dr. Denzil Douglas expresses thanks for the Massive Show of Support
With his nomination as the NextGen SKN St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) candidate for the St. Christopher 6 seat in the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L Douglas, has expressed his “sincerest gratitude to my constituents in Constituency #6 who have accepted me to be their candidate once more.”
“I am humbled by the love and support that I have been getting throughout the different communities that I seek to represent. To the people of Newton Ground, St. Paul’s, Dieppe Bay, Parson’s Ground, Lynch’s, Saddlers and Harris’, I pledge to continue to develop the area and forever empower you. I love you! I love you! I love you! God bless you,” said Dr. Douglas on his Facebook page.
June 5, 2020 is Election Day in St. Kitts and Nevis and the people of St. Kitts and Nevis are enthusiastic and looking forward to exercise their voting rights.
The SKNLP is the only political party in the Federation which is fielding a full slate of eight candidates for the seats in St Kitts. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, St Christopher 1; Ms. Marcella Liburd, St Christopher 2; Konris Maynard, St Christopher 3; H.E. Steve Wrensford, St Christopher 4; Kenneth Douglas, St Christopher 5; Dr. Denzil Douglas, St Christopher 6; Leon Natta-Nelson, St Christopher 7 and Dr. Terrance Drew, St Christopher 8.
On St Kitts, the nomination places were: St Christopher Constituency 1: Police Training School; St Christopher 2, Mc Knight Community Centre; St Christopher 3, St Johnson’s Community Centre; St Christopher 4, Old Road Community Centre; St Christopher 5, Sandy Point Community Centre; St Christopher 6, Dieppe Bay Police Station; St Christopher 7, Tabernacle Police Station and St Christopher 8, St. Peters Community Centre.
In Nevis, Nevis 9, Bath Community Centre; Nevis, 10, David Freeman Centre of Excellence, Market Shop, Gingerland and Nevis 11, Cotton Ground Community Centre.
The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is RED and READY to face the people on Election Day. It has the right team, with the right set of plans and policies to hit the ground running from Day One and to bring Hope, Opportunity and Relief to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The NextGen SKN Labour Party congratulates the government and people of Guyana on the 54th Anniversary of its Independence.
The Independence Anniversary this year is indeed a very special one as Guyana stands poised to usher in a new era of social and economic prosperity. As you celebrate this day, it is our hope that it will also provide a moment for deep reflection on the hard-won gains that your country has made over the last fifty-four years and foment a renewed commitment to working together in defense of the principles and ideals that underpin Guyana as a democratic, fair and just society.
The Guyanese community is an important part of our immigrant population who have adopted St. Kitts and Nevis as their new home. They are a hard-working people who have become well integrated into our society and contribute in significant ways to our churches, our schools, our work places and the business ventures that they pursue. The people of St. Kitts and Nevis owe a debt of gratitude to our Guyanese community. Many are descendants of those intrepid souls who would have come to our assistance during the final years of our Sugar Industry when we needed more labourers to assist with our harvest. Even more have come to St. Kitts and Nevis under CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) free movement of skills arrangements and now work in our hospitality industry and other areas.
Historically, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has been at the forefront of the regional integration movement and has played an integral role in shaping the present thrust towards easing restrictions on free movement, especially of skilled workers, and protecting the contingent rights of all CARICOM nationals. The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party therefore takes this opportunity to reassure our Guyanese brothers and sisters that they will be an important part of our vision for taking our country to the next level. As fellow CARICOM nationals, especially those with whom we share such a rich history, we embrace the Guyanese Community as a source of skills and talent.
The NextGen SKN Labour Administration will ensure that our Guyanese Community, as well as other immigrant communities, will receive all the support needed to better integrate into our society and participate in the national prosperity agenda. A NextGen SKN Labour administration will build bridges with the Guyanese community – bridges to better understanding, opportunity, upward mobility and prosperity and will remove any obstacle standing in the way of their dreams and aspirations as citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Have a Happy Independence Day!
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – The decision by Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris to overrule the selection of Returning Officers and Poll Clerks made by supervisor of elections, Elvin Bailey, and to replace them with his people, including his brother-in-law, Jermaine “Sacky” Lake, has created considerable suspicion and fear among the people of St Kitts and Nevis.
Increasingly, there are questions being asked about the motives of Dr Harris, and others are convinced that “the country will become another Guyana”.
An irate voter said, “I know Dr Harris is desperate but what he is doing can destroy our country.” Another pointed out, “This is an act of desperation. Dr Harris is trying to cling to power at all costs.”
A woman who claimed to be from Constituency No. 7, which has supported Dr Harris for 27 years as its representative, replied, “Not me and him again. I’m not surprised at “Sacky” (Lake) because he is Dr Harris brother-in-law. But I never thought that (Vincent) Hodge, who is a respected public servant, will support that kind of tactic. He is the first person who should have said ‘No’ to Dr Harris. He also should not have allowed Dr Harris to choose all the Poll Clerks. This is very suspicious.”
While supervisor Bailey has confessed to being embarrassed that his choices were ignored by Dr Harris, he thanked and apologised to the persons he selected and trained. He said sadly, “I will do the election and I will do my best and then consider my options.”
There is some extremely disturbing news concerning the Social Security Board of St Kitts and Nevis.
We understand that a huge amount of money was passed to SCASPA (St Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority) very late last December, a Christmas present that was neither earned nor deserved. The reason for this Christmas gift is not clear.
We have heard it could be close to $100 million but another source says it is more than $75 million. We, the people of St Kitts and Nevis, deserve to know how much money was spent, for what purpose and what was achieved or accomplished with the almost $100 million Christmas present? Those who heard about it through the grapevine keep wondering, “Where the money gone?” Worse, is where the money continues to go. Additionally, Social Security approved another big loan to SCASPA, which we understand must be disbursed to them before May 22.
That present from Santa Social Security to SCASPA is not the only one. A Nevisian lady is now making big money in a posh executive job but nobody knows how she got there, not even the human resources director (HR) who is supposed to be the one to hire people. Did someone over-rule the HR director or is that someone over-riding the lady from Nevis?
In the meantime, we have some globe-trotters in the Social Security Office who are not paying back money provided for travel even though they got letters demanding they settle their debts. This is part of a “Free-For-All” in the government board. Monthly stipends shoot up, committee stipends sky-rocket, people are even now buying laptops and tablets costing thousands of dollars more than they are allowed in the stipulated five-year period. Even worse, is that the board dished out to themselves $20,000 each as “gratuities” and have been assured that if the government changes they will get two years of free money and stipends.
This indecent haste to grab, seize, smash and screw the people of St Kitts and Nevis must be stopped now. We have tried to ask Dr Timothy Harris what kind of feeding frenzy is going on with the country’s Social Security Funds and why he is bankrupting the poorest people in the country, the ones most in need of support. These are citizens who have contributed significantly to the development of our country and deserve the support they are supposed to receive. A lot of them are wondering where their money gone.
My efforts to contact prime minister Dr Harris has failed. However a Kittitian nearing retirement said: “One hopes that it won’t be too late before the masses of St Kitts and Nevis realize that their cheese factory is being guarded by rats. Social Security money is the people’s money and it is being abused by the traitors and imposters who hold the levers of power”.
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Citizens of St Kitts and Nevis are outraged that the State of Emergency has not yet been lifted and by not repealing it, the government is deliberately holding to ransom St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) from the liberation required in this general elections.
Kittitians and Nevisians continue to express outrage at the flagrant abuse of power by Dr Timothy Harris government use of the curfew to suppress the campaign of the SKNLP.
Prominent local businessman, A.U. Browne complained, “On Monday, the PAM candidate for #1, Ian Patches Liburd supported by DrTimothy Harris held a meeting with about 50 supporters in Newtown that constitutes a flagrant abuse of power.”
Browne insisted that “Timothy Harris and his Team Unity government are proving the law doesn’t apply to them. Their behaviour signals the establishment of a dictatorship in St Kitts and Nevis. They force all of us to follow the law, but they disregard it. If they are willing to use the State of Emergency to suppress the movement of citizens then you can expect anything from them including trying to ‘rig’ the elections.”
In a social media post, Browne contends that because of presumable “polls paid” for by Dr Harris indicated the people’s disapproval of both himself and his Team Unity government that “he (Harris) is afraid of the inevitable, that he will be a one-term prime minister.” Browne contended that Dr Harris “is now doing all in his power to suppress and frustrate the opposition. But it will not work. Voters will reject dictatorship in St Kitts and Nevis. The people will overwhelmingly get rid of this vindictive government, comprised of greedy, vindictive, corrupt, nepotistic, lawless men.” Browne asserted, “St Kitts and Nevis will be better under a labour party administration.”
Browne’s view is supported by many residents including Shez Dore-Tyson who complained, “People are locked down for no reason except for political mileage. I hope when wolfs come we are ready for it.”
Another citizen, James Richards, called for the need to “stop their wickedness.” He said angrily, “There is no reason for the State of Emergency at all. Kittitians and Nevisians need to open their eyes and ears. Don’t allow their rights to be taken away. Get up and stand up for your rights please my people.”
Hazel Jeffers, a teacher, told this sad story, “My former student is burying her dad but only a limited number of persons can attend. Yet, Dr Harris has a big gathering at his political launch. The playing field is not level.”
Nevisian and retired police officer, Ivor Henry, views the blatant violations and actions of prime minister Dr Harris as “a provocation” and had a message for commissioner of police, Hilroy Brandy, “ Mr commissioner of police, you have unlawfully arrested persons for having one foot outside their yard. This sardine-can image cannot be right if you are taking your assigned job seriously.”
Other nationals contend that Dr Harris must return to parliament, bring to an end the State of Emergency and ensure that the opposition has the same rights to campaign publicly like the government, albeit parliament has been dissolved.
Former chairman of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Chesley Hamilton, attorney at law, is demanding Dr Harris ensure that Saint Kitts and Nevis has free and fair elections and that means ending the State of Emergency which is not only draconian but also removes the fundamental rights of the people.
Hamilton believes that Saint Kitts and Nevis has passed the worst and that elections could proceed without restrictions, reiterated, “The suspension of the rights of a people during an election is wrong, is wrong.” He called on St Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, St Kitts and Nevis Bar Association, The St Kitts Christian Council, the St Kitts Evangelical Association, the Nevis Christian Council and the Nevis Evangelical Association to break their silence.
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – A confident NextGen SKN team leader Dr Denzil Douglas announced that his St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) is prepared for victory to reverse the five years of pain and the lack of support from their government during the present and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic emphasised; “the earlier we regain power, the better it will be for the suffering people of St Kitts and Nevis.”
“We are confident of victory in the election,” Dr Douglas, leader of the SKN labour party explained. “When we heard that the date for the elections is June 5, his enthusiastic response was, “The earlier the better. We are ready.”
Asked about his party’s chances of winning, Dr Douglas said: “We are confident that our citizens have experienced enough hardship to know that in the past five years our country has been moving in the wrong direction under a despotic, nepotistic, incompetent and uncaring government,” he added, “The time has come for the people of St Kitts and Nevis to exercise the power of their franchise and elect the leadership they deserve with joyful expectation for a brighter future.”
Dr Douglas noted that when the labour administration left office in 2015, St Kitts and Nevis was one of the leading economies in the Eastern Caribbean and pioneered a success story in human development. He made a stark comparison between his party’s management of the economy and the damage to the country wrought by the Dr Timothy Harris government.
“We left EC$900 million in the treasury and almost one billion dollars in the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund. For the first time in the history of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the labour government returned almost 50 million dollars of unused funds while reducing our outstanding debt to the IMF to a little over 60 percent of GDP. We became the first country in the world to fully return an IMF loan,” said Dr Douglas.
However, commenting on the five-year Dr Harris term, Dr Douglas shook his head in sorrow and explained: “I am saddened by the situation of our country. We are now in the middle of the economic fallout from COVID-19 and it is clear to everyone that the Dr Harris government does not have the capacity, skill or competence to provide the necessary support and assistance to the thousands who have lost their jobs and the many businesses which are struggling to stay afloat.”
Dr Douglas lamented: “In their greatest moment of need, the citizens and residents of St Kitts and Nevis have nowhere to turn for help. The boasts by Dr Harris of surplus after surplus has been proven to be nothing but lies and propaganda. The reckless “looting” of the Social Security Fund, yet again, is ample testimony to that fiction.”
Dr Douglas confirmed that the COVID-19 Emergency Economic Stimulus Plan was inadequate and failed to reach the people who need it most.
He said bitterly: “Right now many of our citizens find themselves in dire poverty and the aid they thought they would get is not forthcoming. Our farmers are treated with scant regard as their animals die because of political discrimination in the distribution of funds. However, we already know what we have to do to get our country back on track and undo the damage that Dr Harris, his family, and friends have done to our economy.”
Address to the Nation on the Announcement of Election Day and Nomination Day – by Rt. Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party
May 18, 2020
Fellow citizens, comrades and friends,
The St. Kitts- Nevis Labour Party is very excited that Timothy Harris has finally announced the date for the general election on June 5, 2020 with the Nomination Day set for May 27, 2020. The Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is prepared, enthusiastic and fully mobilized to contest the elections within the bounds of the rule of law and in a manner that is free, fair and free from fear to all participating parties.
I take this opportunity to assure you that the NextGen SKN St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party machinery is organized, well-oiled and running on all cylinders. Unlike the outgoing regime, our Party is ready and anxious to face the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. We are confident that our citizens and residents have had an opportunity to compare and contrast and have determined that over the last five years our country has been moving in the wrong direction under a despotic, nepotistic, incompetent and uncaring government. The time has come for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis to exercise the power of their franchise and elect the leadership they deserve with joyful expectation for a brighter future.
When the Labour administration left office in 2015, St. Kitts and Nevis was one of the leading economies in the Eastern Caribbean and pioneer and success story in human development. Our treasury was flushed with some $900 million and almost one billion dollars in the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund.
For the first time in the history of the IMF, the Labour government paid back almost 50 million dollars of unused funds while reducing our outstanding debt to the IMF to a little over 60 per cent of GDP. In other words, we left more than enough money to pay off the IMF and continue to build the nation. Under the prudent and astute management the Labour administration, our Federation became the first country in the world to fully return an International Monetary Fund loan.
Where are we now?
In the middle of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is pellucidly evident that the outgoing regime does not have the capacity, skill or competence to provide the necessary support and assistance to the thousands who have lost their jobs and the many businesses which are struggling to stay afloat. In their greatest moment of need, the citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis have nowhere to turn for help. Harris’ constant boasting of surplus after surplus has been proven, like many of the unfulfilled promises in his 2015 manifesto, to be nothing more than big, fat lies and propaganda. The reckless looting of the Social Security Fund, yet again, is ample testimony to that fiction.
The so-called COVID-1`9 Emergency Economic Stimulus Plan has been woefully inadequate and has failed miserably to reach those who need it most, while the regime has turned a deaf and a blind eye to their pleas. Under the government’s politically-motivated State of Emergency, many of our citizens find themselves impoverished by this crisis and have been forced to rely on food aid in order to feed, clothe and house their families. At a time when food security is of the highest priority, our farmers are treated with scant regard as their animals die off because of political discrimination in the distribution of Bayticol. That is the outrageous behaviour of a regime that claims to have surplus after surplus after surplus and lies after lies.
Fellow citizens, we will be fighting this battle on an uneven playing field as the government makes every attempt to rig the elections in their favour. Only today, it was reported to us that the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Elvin Bailey rejected presiding and returning officers whom the prime minister believed to be Labour supporters.
The upcoming election is a battle for the very soul of your nation and you, the real voters of St. Kitts and Nevis must make it known through the ballot that you do not, and will not, accept the unprecedented low to which our nation has been taken in all areas and in all sectors.
Citizens, comrades and friends the pathway to economic recovery will not be easy.
We must all take this upcoming election very, very seriously. It is going to be one of the most important decisions that you will ever make.
The time has come to get our country back on track.
The choice you make at the polls is clear.
If you want to return to your jobs, you will make the right choice and vote Labour
If you want decent, affordable housing, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR.
If you want first-class healthcare, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR
If you want good governance and integrity, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR.
If you want to see an end to victimization and crimes against women, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR.
If you want to stamp out nepotism and one family government, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR.
The government’s removal of the one-to-one laptop program is now threatening our children’s education. If you want to see a new education system that is relevant for the development of our people in the 21st century, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR.
If you want to stop being a second-class citizen in your own country, you will make the right choice and vote LABOUR.
This election is about trust and leadership, and as you go to the polls on June 5, you must ask yourselves, who do you trust to lead your nation out of the present economic doldrums? Who has the proven leadership credentials to take St. Kitts and Nevis forward and upward to the next level?
LABOUR is the only party with the experience and leadership skills to tackle the challenges of the post-COVID environment. We have the track record of successful crisis management and our well-balanced NextGEN team is fully-equipped to do it again!
Remember, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU. Vote LABOUR, and together, we WILL make St. Kitts and Nevis NUMBER ONE AGAIN!
God bless you and may God bless St. Kitts and Nevis.
I want you to know that Dr. Douglas loves you, today, on Election Day and every day after that!
(Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, April 27, 2020) – The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) has taken the proactive step of establishing an Economic Recovery Advisory Council (ERAC) that will commence its work immediately. The Terms of Reference of the ERAC outlines the main objective of the Council as being “to advise the SKNLP and its leadership” on policies and strategies that would:
- Reconnect and realign the local economy with the global tourism, trade and investments markets at the earliest possible time.
- Resuscitate and grow the main drivers of the national economy – Tourism, Manufacturing, Construction and Financial and other Services in order to put people back to work as quickly as possible.
- Identify and invest in opportunities for further economic expansion and diversification based on the new norms and imperatives of the post-COVID environment including inter alia, Agriculture and Food Security; ICT and Digital infrastructure; Comprehensive Primary Health Care and Universal Public Health Insurance and NextGen Education.
- Guide, channel and monitor foreign direct investment into public sector projects that will generate economic growth and yield exponential development dividends.
- Facilitate and stimulate bottom-up approaches to small and medium enterprise development in ways that would incentivize and reward our risk-takers and enhance their viability and competiveness and create jobs.
- Restore the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship-By-Investment Program to global competitiveness.
- Create an institutional framework for harnessing the full spectrum of economic benefits that the Diaspora can bring to bear in St. Kitts and Nevis in the areas of remittances; direct Investments; human capital transfers (knowledge, skills, ideas, contacts and technology); philanthropic contributions; capital market investments; tourism; job creation; business development and Innovation.
- Optimize the quality and delivery of our public services to ensure maximum impact and efficiency and that will enhance the ease-of-doing-business in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“This initiative provides another vivid demonstration of the vision and commitment of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party towards building resilience into the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis. Our Next Gen team wants to hit the ground running, with great urgency from our first day in office, in a manner that would make life more affordable and less stressful for our young people, families and businesses. Despite the setbacks and fear caused by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is ready to seize the opportunities upon which the foundation of a new post-COVID economy can be laid for the betterment of our people,” stated the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.
The Economic Recovery Advisory Council will comprise experts, thought-leaders and professionals in relevant areas of economic and social reconstruction. The Council will provide monthly written reports on the progress of its work to the executive of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and the future NextGen SKN Labour Administration leading up to the Federal election.
The St Kitts & Nevis Federal election must take place no later than August, 2020. The National Assembly will dissolve automatically on May 14, unless it is dissolved sooner by the outgoing Prime Minister, Timothy Harris.
HARRIS’ EARLY RELEASE PLAN FOR PRISONERS IS CREATING MORE HAVOC THAN SOLVING PROBLEMS IN ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
Residents and citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis are already living under the stress of lockdown. Their mental health and peace of mind are pushed to the edge of economic and social agony associated with covid-19.
To add pain to this peril, PM Timothy Harris’ early release of prisoners in the community is premature. He is doing this without regard for the headaches and emotional torment his actions are having on the good people of the Federation.
Transparency, honesty and a clearly laid out policy would go a long way in reducing confusion, anxiety and fear.
While overcrowding, poor health facilities and unsanitary conditions make it hard to practice social distancing in the prison, it is inexcusable to release prisoners without knowing what criteria they must meet in order to be qualified to go home.
Are prisoners going to be confined at home after serving at least 50% percent of their sentences?
Will prisoners who become infected by the coronavirus be automatically eligible for early release?
Has something caused a new state of emergency at the prison?
Do prison officials anticipate a worse outbreak of Covid-19 in the facility than in the country at large?
What percentage of prisoners is at increased risk of being infected?
How many prison staff and prisoners if any, have tested positive for covid-19?
Many questions are being raised and negative comments made in the social media about the real motive behind this action of the Harris’s regime.
“I am baffled at the foolishness of this government and find it ridiculous how in St. Kitts now we are locking up people for breaking curfew but releasing rapists and thieves,” one young man wrote on social media.
Others are asking: “Is this part of the deal that Government made with the criminals in Government’s Pay for Peace Initiative”?
The idea that the regime will create confusion in advance of the elections, to justify draconian measures under the state of emergency is not far fetched. Just last Friday, under the cover of protecting the public health, Harris went to the Parliament to extend the Emergency Laws for an additional six months beyond the constitutional life of the Parliament, which automatically dissolves on May 14th, 2020, with election due by August 12th, 2020.
Rising public frustration and anger deposited on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter reveal that the regime is so desperate because of their recent polling numbers, that they would endanger the public to recruit additional voters.
However, in the absence of strict monitoring programs where criminals are subjected to critical risk assessment, community watchdog arrangements and the wearing of electronic tags, upscaling release is more a cold-hearted political ploy than a serious attempt to avert the virus.
With heightened distrust of the government by voters in the Federation, implementing the early release program could, during the middle of this pandemic, increase stress, worry and fear in the wider population in ways that sincerely make the population more prone to catching the virus and thus, damage the goal of preserving the public health.
There should be a comprehensive plan to lessen the public anxiety over Harris’s sinister political agenda to release prisoners early. This plan should entail detecting, isolating and tracking cases in prison and in the wider population. The government should be busy developing innovative cell-based wellness and health activities and rehabilitation programs to prepare prisoners to re-enter society and become productive citizens again.
Clearly, this chaotic, risky, depression prone early release plan by Harris, deserves the strongest form of harsh condemnation.
On Friday, April 17, 2020, PM Timothy Harris of St. Kitts and Nevis went to Parliament to extend the Emergency Laws for an additional six months. Yet, the official data, if it can be believed, shows that only 15 persons within the Federation of a population of about 55,000 people tested positive. And additionally, according to the PM “there have been no hospitalisations and no deaths”.
To protect the public health, we must defend the people’s rights. People will have a very tough time safeguarding their own health when their liberties are taken away under the guise of guaranteeing their public health. One benefit of protecting the public health is that residents and citizens can enjoy their social and economic wellbeing. However, the government should not shamelessly reap a political benefit while placing a burden on the people and the opposition or else it loses its legitimacy and moral authority to govern.
Since the Federation is on the brink of a national election, the objective must be to find the right balance between public safety and the people’s will to choose their government. This delicate balance is part of the holistic health of the country.
It is important to establish widespread testing, social distancing and treatment to tackle the infection rate of COVID-19. Timothy Harris is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover to disguise a more sinister, selfish and undemocratic power grab as he uses weekly broadcasts to push his own political agenda on the government owned and operated national radio and television stations, paid for by the tax payers of the country, but denies the Opposition Next Gen SKNLP access to the same media facilities.
The unnecessary lengthy extension of Emergency Laws is not only causing untold pain on the business sector, but on individuals, families and communities who are the very lifeblood and backbone of the health and wealth of the country.
These excessively harsh measures under a State of Emergency which suspends the citizens fundamental rights of freedom of association and freedom of speech, implemented to the disadvantage of the Parliamentary Opposition under the pretence of slowing down the virus, are designed to compromise, destroy and take away the fundamentals of democracy.
Over the last five years, Harris has been steadily eroding democracy. Harris has excluded the Opposition from using national radio and television, stifled debate in the National Assembly, politicised the Police Force, illegally suspended and corrupted the operations of the National Electoral Office and exhibited callous nepotism and cronyism in public appointments and awarding of government contracts. Harris’ close family members occupy high positions in the civil service, government banking institutions, the judiciary and the prison.
Under total lockdowns of 24 hr curfews, the Emergency Laws permit the government’s candidates as essential service providers to go canvassing during the final leg of an intense general election campaign. Yet, these same laws restrict and curtail members of the Parliamentary Opposition from doing the same.
It isn’t surprising that other governments in the Caribbean like Barbados, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda have collaborated with Opposition parties to help manage this pandemic. Conversely, Harris has blatantly refused to work with the Opposition to help protect the very public health, which he claims is his main focus. Clearly, Harris’s actions speak louder than his empty words. He continues to deny the Parliamentary Opposition access to the national media. He uses state owned media to bash the opposition, promote the politics of division, and spread callous propaganda in an attempt to gain political advantage.
Given the simmering frustration that the people are displaying, if Harris does not stop destroying the people’s democratic health and the rule of law, he is likely to incite a constitutional calamity, and with it, social chaos.
The people must be watchful, vigilant and alert. Short of this, Harris will introduce martial law. As he continues to say that “under a State of Emergency general elections are on the back burner …….and not at all on my mind”, it is believed that he will suspend the Constitution and desperately hold on to power. The results will erase all civil liberties and usher in the rule of an evil dictator.
The government has the ability to invoke Emergency Laws but there are limits. The government does not have the right to abuse its power. In fact, the new social norms of a democratic society require that we find a way to live with the coronavirus in the same way as we have had to live with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases that have no cure but demand behavioural changes.
The six months extension of the Emergency Laws beyond the constitutional date of the national election is arbitrary and unjustified. It does not promote good public health or democratic practices and principles. According to the Federation’s Constitution, the national parliament must be automatically dissolved by May 14, 2020. Within 90 days, August 12, 2020, the national election must be held. Will the country be plunged into a constitutional danger and dictatorship using the virus as an excuse or will the will of the people prevail in a free, fair and free from fear election?
Harris must find safe ways for voters to vote. In this critical election year, Harris must give opposition candidates the same access to constituents as he affords the government’s candidates.
“Although this novel coronavirus is unpredictable, I am optimistic that the contagion threat will be reduced, if not eliminated within the next few weeks. At worse, we may have to find creative methods for our people to exercise their franchise. At best, the wind of change is likely to see increases in voter turnout when the bell rings. No matter what Harris does, he will lose the election and feel the harsh rejection of voters for his bad leadership and corrupt behaviours,” says Dr. Denzil Douglas, Leader of the NextGENSKN Labour Party.