Minister Marcella Liburd slams Powell over targeting of Nigerians

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 9TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Minister of Health, Community and Social Development and Gender Affairs, the Hon. Marcella Liburd says all Commonwealth citizens have the right to register to vote provided they meet the requirements outlined in the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution.

Ms. Liburd, a lawyer accused the PAM/UNITY Concept of blatant discrimination against students of Nigerian nationality.

She was at the time responding to a statement from her political opponent in the Central Basseterre constituency, Mr. Jonel Powel, who issued a statement threatening Nigerian students.

Ms. Liburd pointed to Section 29: 2 of the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution which states: 2) Every Commonwealth citizen of the age of eighteen years or upward who possesses such qualifications relating to residence or domicile in Saint Christopher and Nevis as Parliament may prescribe shall, unless he is disqualified by Parliament from registration as such, be entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of electing Representatives in one (but not more than one) constituency in accordance with the provisions of any law in that behalf and no other person may be registered as such.

“Every commonwealth citizen and Africa is a commonwealth (nation), every commonwealth citizen, it has nothing to do with residence here, every commonwealth citizen of age 18 who possesses such qualifications to residence or domicile in St. Christopher and Nevis as Parliament may prescribe. We need to end this thing in this country of trying to discriminate against certain people because of their African descent and also we need to abide by what our constitution says,” responded Ms. Liburd in an interview on Freedom FM 106.5. “Issues” programme.

“They have the absolute right to register under our constitution and under our National Assembly Elections Act and I want to make abundantly clear to them, they have every right to register once they are living here for more than 12 months. They have the right to register and I don’t want any of these people to feel intimidated or threatened by people who are out there just being smoke screens because of desperation,” said Ms. Liburd.

She said the authorities have had complaints from the Africans and especially the Nigerian Students in particular, who complain and “sometimes I wonder if there is a certain racist element as well.”

“We are all Africans. We have African ancestry. I am very proud of my African Heritage. This is a country where people are mainly of African Heritage. So I don’t see why they are complaining that when they go to restaurants and in other places there are people out there who are threatening them,” said Ms. Liburd.

She accused Mr. Powell of targeting the Nigerians.

“That is so very wrong because when you put someone’s picture out there like that, then what you are saying to people, go and target them? When you put their picture out there what you are saying to people? Go and target them? And in addition to that you are saying to them that they are not going to be allowed to vote. Who is going to stop them from voting? If this is matter that is illegal or whatever other word that they want to use, go to the court with it. This is a matter that has been going on for quite some time now,” stated Ms. Liburd.

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