St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister predicts “clean sweep” in next elections

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and Political Leader of the ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is predicting a “clean sweep” of the seats up for grabs when voters in the twin-island Federation go to the polls to elect a new government.

“We shall be returned. The Labour Party will be returned to office and we will have if not all seats we will have a very clear majority in the elections,” Dr. Douglas told Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Peter Richards while in Trinidad for the just concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

CMC’s Peter Richards

In the last general election held on October 24, 2004, the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) won seven of the 11 seats in the parliament with the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) winning a single seat. The SKNLP holds seven of the eight seats on St. Kitts. There are three seats on Nevis, two held by the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) and the other by the Nevis Refdormation Party (NRP)

Douglas said that his confidence in winning the election is based on “what the people desire” adding that the twin island federation had been impacted by the global economic crisis and “the country I think at this time needs stability.”

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas
(Photo by Erasmus Williams)

“The country needs serious, mature, highly experience hands to lead it through this very turbulent time that we are in and that is why to a certain extent the country has been asking for the Labour party to continue in office so that it can take us through this difficult period of challenge…”

A High Court judge last weekend set December 1 as the date to begin hearing a judicial review application brought by two opposition politicians challenging the decision of the government to proceed with any proposed changes to the constituency boundaries.

The judge stopped short of granting an injunction to the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mark Brantley of the Concerned Citizens Movement ((CCM) in Nevis and Hon. Shawn Richards of the People’s Action Movement (PAM).

The two opposition members are challenging the decision of the CBC to proceed with proposed changes to the Federation’s constituency boundaries ahead of next month’s dissolution of Parliament.

The move by the opposition followed the decision of two other legislators who resigned from the Constituency Boundaries Commission, expressing frustration over the process.

In their absence, the government has been seeking to push forward with amendments to the domestic limits, but Justice Belle has ordered that the Douglas administration stay its hand until after he has issued a ruling on the matter.

But the Prime Minister told CMC that he would be “very irresponsible” if he decided to call the general election before the whole issue of the boundaries is cleared up.

He said to do so would be to brush aside the recommendations of the Commonwealth Group that monitored the last general election and made several recommendations after recognising “serious problem with the electoral system…”

He said that there were some constituencies with “almost three times the size of the smallest and that creates inequalities in the system and we seriously want to adjust that inequality.”

“That is why we have sought at all lengths to ensure that there is fairness in the system. Why should you have for example one parliamentarian elected to serve…saddled with 6,000 inhabitants and another parliamentarian elected in the same system only 2000 inhabitants to look after.

“It is unfair and what we are seeking to do is to create the fairness and the justice that the constitution speaks about when it comes to the electoral system,” Douglas said.

The Prime Minister would however gave no indication as to when he would call the general election that political observers say will be held ahead of the constitutional deadline of 2010.

“The elections definitely are not due until March, we know that the Parliament must dissolve on or about the 16th of December…and according to our constitution we have another 90 days to call the elections after the closure of Parliament.”

“So once the recommendations from the Constituency Boundaries Commission are eventually created into a draft proclamation and that gets debated in the National Assembly and it goes to the Governor General for signature then the appropriate proclamation would have been created and the elections will be fought on those new boundaries.”

Douglas said he was prepared to wait “to the point that there is no unnecessary shock in the country” before calling the elections while ruling out a poll before the Christmas season.

“You must recognise that Christmas is the time that is celebrated by families and you we know that elections can be very divisive and can be very controversial and I would hate to create divisions within family at Christmas time,” he said.

“If for example it is not possible to have the elections maybe a few days before Christmas, why should I do that,” Dr. Douglas said.

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