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SVG: Regional political battle ground

SVG: Regional political battle ground


St Vincent and the Grenadines this week became the battle turf, as the ongoing political power struggle in St Kitts/Nevis found a regional stage, in search of a regional solution.{more}}

The showdown brought the two main combatants within yards of each other on Monday at Buccament. Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas was at the Buccament Bay Resort for Day One of the CARICOM Heads of Government Intersessional meeting. The man who is campaigning to depose him as Prime Minister, his former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Timothy Harris, was on a picket line on the approach to the conference venue, stepping up his call for Douglas to go.

St Vincent and the Grenadines became the new stage for this longstanding Douglas/Harris battle because most Heads of State and Government of the 15-member Caribbean Community were on island for the two-day meeting. The CARICOM chairmanship, now being held by Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, a swarm of regional journalists – some with extra-regional connections – were on island with notepads and cameras in hand.

Dr Harris, who reportedly had been seeking for several years to have Dr Douglas hand over the leadership of the St Kitts Labour Party and the Government to him, was sacked from the Government just over a year ago. He and fellow government Minister Sam Condor – who resigned shortly after Harris’ sacking, formed the Peoples Labour Party, and joined with the four other elected parliamentarians on the Opposition benches to form the six-member Team Unity, to outnumber Dr Douglas’ five elected members. Team Unity has since been trying to have a motion of no confidence in Dr Douglas tabled in Parliament without success, and have therefore accused the Douglas administration of usurping the constitution. Dr Harris was seeking to pressure CARICOM to pronounce on the political stalemate in Basseterre.

Observers also feel this week’s local round of the Kittitian political battle was fuelled in part by Vincentian politics.

Dr Harris teamed up with the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) for the picket and a series of media and town hall events in the run-up to Monday’s big day. NDP’s political leader Arnhim Eustace was on the Buccament Greenhouse picket line with Harris, decrying CARICOM’s silence on the St Kitts/Nevis political situation, while his local political opponent Dr Gonsalves was at the Buccament Resort chairing the CARICOM Plenary, with Dr Douglas as the St Kitts/Nevis representative.

For some observers, the political drama made the 25th CARICOM Intersessional one of the most followed regional meetings in recent times.