June 2, 2020
The voices of many or the power of the people can make things happen. The outgoing Harris-led coalition regime, which is bent on holding on to power at all cost is being forced to yield to public pressure amidst widespread condemnation of the undemocratic practices that are taking place in the run-up to the June 5th General Election.
The NGO Coalition (St. Kitts Christian Council, St. Kitts Evangelical Association and St. Kitts Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce) had written to Mr. Timothy Harris indicating that it does not have the local resources to participate and report as observers on polling day.
On May 28, 2020, OAS Secretary General, H.E. Luis Almagro wrote to Dr. Denzil Douglas in response to letter that he had sent as Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. The OAS Secretary General shared that the government had disinvited his team of observers who were funded, tested for COVID-19 and ready to travel to the Federation as observers.
The St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party continued to apply heavy pressure by applying for several injunctions in the High Court. It has also vigorously advocated for CARICOM, Commonwealth and OAS officials to be allowed into the Federation to monitor and assess the electoral and voting processes on Election Day.
With only three more days to Election Day, and with mounting pressure from voters, Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer and Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff recently announced health protocols to accommodate a CARICOM Election Observer Mission in St. Kitts and Nevis. The health requirements as announced are:
- The team members will be escorted to Ocean Terrace Inn Hotel (OTI), Government designated quarantine site upon landing at RL Bradshaw Airport via the RSS aircraft.
- The team members will be immediately screened (temperature etc.) and relevant naso-pharyngeal sample taken for molecular (RT-PCR) test by Next Generation Lab (local Laboratory).
- The team members will be accommodated at Government designated quarantine site (Ocean Terrace Inn Hotel) for the duration of visit or for 14 days whichever is longer.
- The team members will be attired in appropriate PPE (personal protective gear) when they are executing their duties and responsibilities at the various polling stations and interacting with local stakeholders groups/civil society.
- The team members will be transported to and from election sites/polling stations in an assigned vehicle (preferably a bus to facilitate physical distancing). At least two specific drivers will be assigned to the team. These two drivers will be monitored for COVID-19.
This sudden turn of events demonstrates the important role that citizens and actors in civil society can play in the defense of national values and standards of transparency and accountability in order to protect the democratic interests of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.