By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 18, 2018 – Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is strongly protesting the government’s denial his office’s request, use of the Community Centres for town hall meetings with members of the respective communities.
In a letter to Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, the opposition leader pointed out that “to deprive the Opposition of the use of the centres that were constructed to enhance development through community-based activities is not only discriminatory, but undemocratic and stifles the laudable principles of freedom for which the leaders before you fought to benefit the people whom they represented.”
Dr. Douglas pointed out that on March 9, an application for use of the Community Centre in Newtown was made at the Department of Community Affairs by his Office, and as on previous occasions, “my office was informed by Mrs Anne Wigley that your government has instituted a policy to prevent the Office of the Leader of the Opposition from using the Community Centres in St. Kitts.”
Dr. Douglas pointed out that during the tenure of the Labour Party Administration the Opposition of the day including all political parties, had access to the Community Centres.
“The issues that should unite us as Parliamentarians hinge on the wellbeing of all the people whom we are elected to represent and as such we must be given the opportunity to engage them in the communal confines that were designed for us so to do.,” said Dr. Douglas.
He added: “Trampling on a fundamental right to information by the people in the respective communities is dictatorial and has no part in a democracy such as what we claim to embrace as citizens of this Federation. “
Dr. Douglas called for the decision to be dispelled with in the interest of fairness for all.
“After all, the Opposition is part of the governance structure of this country and the decision to refuse the members access to government-owned community buildings is myopic and undemocratic,” said Dr. Douglas, who wrote:
“The Office of the Leader of the Opposition will not under any circumstance accepts any policy by your government that has been designed to prevent it from having access to the community centres or from carrying out its business as a legitimate institution of our State.”
He said just as any legitimate community group or club, or any Department of Government is afforded the opportunity to make reasonable use of the community centres, so too must the Office of the Leader of the Opposition be afforded that opportunity.
He said his office has already communicated these sentiments orally to the department in question and appealed to the government’s better judgment in the interest of advancing the democratic development and a harmonious coexistence.
Copies of the letter have been sent to the Minister responsible for Community Development; the St. Kitts Evangelical Association; St. Kitts Christian Council; St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association; St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce; H. E. Irwin La Roque, Secretary General – Caribbean Community; HE Dr. Didicus Jules, Director General – OECS Commission; HE George Gow-wei Chiou, Ambassador – Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan); HE Rómulo Camilo Henríquez González, Ambassador – Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela; HE Abelardo Fabio Hernández Ferrer, Ambassador – Embassy of the Republic of Cuba; HE Douglas W Vasconcellos, Ambassador – Embassy of the Republic of Brazil; HE Linda S Taglialatela, Ambassador of the United States to the Eastern Caribbean