By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 22, 2018 – Another protest outside Government Headquarters in Basseterre, the St. Kitts and Nevis capital, the second in as many days.
Community activist, Curtis Crooke is protesting the decision of the Timothy Harris-led CCM/PLP/PAM coalition to deny the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) to use community centers around St. Kitts to meet with members of the public.
Crooke said he is staging the protest in light of the disclosure by the SKNLP caretaker for St. Christopher 8, Dr. Terrance Drew that the Government had denied permission to the Labour Party to use community centers and other public facilities, especially when those parties while in opposition had approval by the then Labour Government to use or political events.
“This is totally unfair. It is an injustice. It is undemocratic. It is dictatorial,” said Crooke by telephone as he mounted his one-man protest outside Government Headquarters which houses the Office of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris. Scores of Labour Party supporters joined the Labour Party parliamentarians in a protest outside Government Headquarters on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Dr. Drew told hundreds of persons attending and listening to a Town Hall Meeting by the SKNLP that the Harris government had refused their request to use the facilities.
“The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is not allowing the opposition to use the community centres. These are the traits of a dictatorial regime. The community centres are public facilities. Your taxes have helped to finance the construction and upkeep of these facilities. The Harris Government has decided that the SKNLP cannot use them,” said Dr. Drew.
“While the SKNLP cannot use them at this very moment the Harris Government is using the East Basseterre Community Centre in New Town holding a Town Hall meeting, Is that fair? Are these not the signs of a dictatorship ensuring that the opposition is silenced,” asked Dr. Drew, who disclosed that his request last December to hold his annual Christmas parties in the various community centres for the children in his large constituency were also denied.
“We were told that we could not use the Conaree Community Centre because it was being used. We used the ball field, an open area, by placing tents on the grounds to accommodate the children. At the same time the party was going on I visited the location of the Conaree Community Centre and it was closed and empty, confirming that the authorities, had not only lied to us, but denied the children of Conaree an adequate and safer facility for them to enjoy themselves,” said Dr. Drew.
He said his Constituency group applied to use the Keys Community Centre for the children’s Christmas Party and was told it was under construction.
“We erected a tent on the basketball court, less than six feet from the community centre which the government claimed was under construction. That same afternoon, the PAM representative, Hon. Eugene Hamilton arrived and held his Christmas Party inside the same community centre that we were told was under construction,” said Dr. Drew.
Last October, an application to use the Community Centre in Lodge Village, part of Prime Minister Harris’ constituency was approved, but when the SKNLP official went to collect the letter of authorisation, Mrs. Ann Wigley informed that “community centres are no longer available.
Use of the Sandy Point Community Centre, in the constituency held by Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Hawn Richards was also denied.
In 2014, the then opposition Team Unity, led by Dr. held a series of meetings and permission was given by the Labour Government to hold meetings on May 6th at the New Town Community Center in East Basseterre, the St. Johnston Community Center in West Basseterre on 9th May, the Edgar Gilbert Sports Complex on May 15th; the Conaree Community Center on June 1st and the Challengers Community Center on June 5th .
It was under the SKNLP administration of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas that several community centres were constructed with the financial assistance of the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).