By: Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St Kitts, September 3, 2019 – Shortly after the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) issued a statement pointing out that the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government is hell bent on disenfranchising hundreds of nationals of St Kitts and Nevis who live overseas from voting in the next general election, the bill was withdrawn.
Attorney General Byron rose and informed the House that the Bill would be withdrawn from the Order Paper for today’s sitting.
The Labour Party statement read: “In less than one hour, at 10 AM, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis will be bringing forward for a second reading the Amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act (NAE Act). This is being done in total and utter secrecy and without any consultation with the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis at home and abroad!
It will be a #verysadday when nationals of SKN living abroad are deprived of their right to vote by the vindictive and deceptive Harris at the sitting of the National Assembly today.
Only a few weeks ago #deceptive Harris assured overseas voters in Maryland during an interview with Everton Powell #Obi that this will not happen.
Nationals at home and abroad should #protestandmobilise to remove the Harris regime.
Under the old NAE Act, an overseas national was qualified to vote. They could vote once they had a home here. They could vote if their parents had a home here. There was no barrier.
Now under this new Amendment, the automatic qualification of the overseas national to vote has been taken away. In fact the two sections which are Section 37 (1)(b) and (c) as well as Section 37 B has been totally removed from the Act. So now, the only way a national resident overseas can qualify to vote as a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis, is to be a citizen and to be resident in the constituency where they will be voting for six months.
This has major implications for our overseas nationals:
– It means that you cannot vote as an overseas national unless you were residing in your constituency for six months prior to the date you were registering to vote;
– It means that if you are a student or a contract worker residing temporarily overseas you will not be eligible to vote. Which student can return home to live for six months to register. Which contract worker or worker generally speaking can leave their jobs to come and live in St. Kitts or Nevis to register to vote.
By erecting this HUGE barrier they have essentially disenfranchised our overseas voter.
Also, Commonwealth citizens who are allowed to vote under the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis will be completely barred from voting!
This means that our Indian, Jamaican, Guyanese, Grenadian, Antiguan etc immigrant communities who have lived here for years and pay taxes will be have TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!
TUNE IN TO ZIZ OR SKNIS on tv, radio and internet to follow this critical debate!”