BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 30TH 2013 (CUOPM) – When the People’s Action Movement (PAM) of then Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Sir Kennedy Simmonds changed the boundaries in 1983 and 1989, there was no consultation with political parties.
This was disclosed by the Hon. Marcella Liburd, a member of the current Constituency Boundaries Commission (CBC) appointed by His Excellency the Governor General.
“When the boundary changes were made in 1983 and 1988 there was absolutely no consultation in this country, no consultation with nobody, no consultation at all. As a matter of fact, they went and called a boundaries meeting and in one hour, they changed the boundaries. And then they adjourned the afternoon of the same day, went back 1:00pm and in 15 minutes they changed the boundaries in Nevis. So in one hour and fifteen minutes, the boundaries changed in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Ms. Liburd.
She said the present Commission appointed in August 2013 in accordance with the 1983 Constitution, has met on several occasions. Members are Peter Jenkins Chairman, appointed by the Governor General. Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin and Hon. Marcella Liburd appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and Hon. Vance Amory and Hon. Vincent Byron, appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mark Brantley.
“And at every meeting the opposition is represented. They are there. We also decided to have an outreach to all the political parties. That never happened when PAM changed the boundaries in 1983 and 1988.
“We didn’t bawl. We had to fight the elections on the new boundaries. They (PAM) not only changed the boundaries in 1983, but in 1984, some two months before the election, they changed the rules. And they changed the rules because they had already prepared themselves. So whereas you had to live six months in a constituency, six months before you can register in that constituency, they removed the six months so you don’t have to live for no time in the constituency,” Ms. Liburd pointed out.
“They removed the six months entirely. They didn’t even reduce it to three months or two months, they removed the entire six months, so you didn’t have to live for any time in the constituency because they had already went to North America or wherever else they went and prepared their people and then they introduced continuous voter registration which is not a bad thing and then brought in all kinds of people,” said Ms. Liburd.
She recalled that a day or two before the election the then PAM Government brought in charters with their supporters to vote.
“So much that they had to put up tents for them because there was no place for them to stay. They brought them in and they registered them all over the place and then called an election and we didn’t have any big protests and demonstration, we fought them because they wanted not only to stay in power but they wanted to get rid of Nevis, because at that time it was a PAM-NRP Government and Simeon Daniel was the Minister of Finance and the PAM people did not like that.
They didn’t want the money to be in Nevis and so they did everything within their power in order to get rid of Nevis. So they went and they changed boundaries, they changed rules, they did whatever, so what are they bawling for?” she asked.
Ms. Liburd again reiterated that of all of the political parties forwarding proposals on boundary changes, the only party who did not put in anything is PAM.
“Because if you know them, nothing at all they plan to take part in; that’s how they operate. When they had the Constitutional Commission under Sam Condor, they said they are not taking part. We had the Electoral Reform Commission under Sam Condor and they (PAM) said they are not taking part because Sam said all kinds of things. PAM wrote everybody in the world to complain Sam. They wrote to the Commonwealth, the OECS, the OAS, etc. saying they are not taking part,” recalled Minister Liburd.
“So now you having the boundaries commission as usual, they are not going to take part, because that is their modus. That is the way they operate. They believe that they must control when they are in and they must control when they are out to,” she stated.
Minister Liburd told supporters that although the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is in government “we are not abusing our power, because we are operating within the four walls of the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution.”