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Has the justice system caught up with the PM of St Kitts/Nevis?


Tue Feb 03, 2015

Editor: It seems as if the justice system has caught up with St Kitts/Nevis Prime Minister, Dr Denzil Douglas, who has been delaying a no confidence motion for two years and has been stalling the elections in order to gerrymander the constituencies in order to win the next general elections. He has been in power for four terms — 20 years — and wants to serve yet another five-year term.{{more}}

Caribbean politicians and commentators have been crying shame on Douglas for the past two years, but he continued to ignore his critics until last week, when he received the report from the chairman of the Boundaries Commission, which was favourable to him. Hours after he received the report, he announced February 16 as the date of election, but the following day, an application was made to the High Court to delay the implementation of the report until it has been ventilated by the Court. The judge granted an interim order to the Opposition, but varied it two days later, on the ground that it was made after the proclamation was gazetted.

The Opposition appealed Justice Marlene Carter’s order seeking to reinstate the injunction, blocking the report. The Appellate Court convened a teleconference hearing and listened to arguments from lawyers representing the Opposition party, the Government (including the Prime Minister and the Attorney General) as well as the Boundaries Commission. At the end of the hearing, the Court ruled that “justice of the case merits the grant of an interim injunction pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.” The appeal will be heard expeditiously on February 9 in St Vincent – the next sitting of the Court of Appeal. The injunction extends to and also binds the Electoral Commission and the supervisor of elections from making any use whatsoever of the proposed new boundaries.

A no confidence motion was filed against Douglas’ administration after his deputy prime minister and another senior minister quit his party, but he stalled the motion by dissolving Parliament stating that he was awaiting the report from the Boundaries Commission and hurriedly announced the election date in anticipation that he will win because of the new boundaries. However, the Court intervened and Douglas cannot have his own way in the February 16 elections. Political commentators feel that once the elections are conducted on the existing boundaries, Douglas’ Labour Party will lose the elections, because the electorate is fed up with him and want a new leader in Dr Timothy Harris, a former strongman of the St Kitts/Nevis Labour Party.

Oscar Ramjeet