We write to inform you of the situation in The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis arising from the tabling by the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Parliament of a Motion of no confidence in the Government of the Federation headed by Prime Minister the Rt. Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.
The facts and provisions of the Constitution are:
1. The Motion of no confidence was lodged with the National Assembly on 11th
December 7, 2012.
2. The Constitution of the Federation allows such Motion and requires that if it is successful the Prime Minister must within three days resign or advise the Governor General to dissolve the National Assembly.
3. The Constitution requires that an election must be held within 90 days of the Dissolution of the National Assembly.
4. The Constitution does not provide for the time by which a Motion of no confidence Must be debated nor is there any such provision in the legislation governing the Sittings of the National Assembly.
5. We are advised that in keeping with the convention prevailing in Commonwealth countries, which share the Westminster system of governance, a Motion of no Confidence should be debated at an early date.
6. Three months have passed without the Motion being brought to the National Assembly for debate although the Assembly has met twice since 11th December
7. The budget session of the National Assembly was scheduled for 1ltr’December 2AL2.
That session was suddenly cancelled.
8. In addressing the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce on 18th
December 247? The Prime Minister said that the budget session should take Precedence over the Motion of no confidence on the agenda of the Assembly.
9. The tradition has been for the budget session to be held in December. It has not to date been held although, on the Prime Minister’s own admission, the budget report was prepared in time for presentation at the aborted sitting cn L1th December 2012.
10. The Constitution requires that the estimates for 2013 be laid before the Assembly by 1st March 20L3. That has not been done.
11. In a radio broadcast on 5th February 201″3 the Prime Minister said that scheduling of the Motion of no confidence lies in the hands of the Speaker of the Assembly.
12. We wrote to the Speaker on 12th February 2013 calling on him to bring the Motion of no confidence before the Assembly as a matter of extreme urgency.
13. We are aware, from the publication of the letter that the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association wrote to the Speaker on 11th, February 2013 calling on him to bring the Motion before the Assembly without further delay and pointing out that such delay will undermine the democratic principles on which our Federation is founded.
14. The Speaker replied to the Bar Association on 14u’ February 2013 thanking the Association for the contents of its letter and assuring it that the “matter is under consideration and will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the National Assembly Standing Orders.”
15. After the filing of the Motion of no confidence the Prime Minister relieved the Senior Minister of his Ministerial portfolios and Cabinet position and the Deputy Prime Minister resigned from the Cabinet. Both have indicated that they no longer support the Prime Minister. Both voted in the Assembly at its meeting on 28th January 2013 against legislation which the Prime Minister introduced to increase the number of Appointed Senators and thereby bolster his support in the Assembly where the Senators sit with the elected Representatives and vote on all matters except a Motion of no confidence.
16. That legislation has since been struck down by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme
17. The Assembly comprises 11″ elected Representatives 6 of whom have publicly stated that they oppose the Prime Minister. There is therefore a serious issue to be Determined by the Motion of no confidence.
18. There have been no circumstances of emergency or Act of God which should have delayed the debate and vote on the Motion of no confidence nor has any reason been stated by the Speaker.
19. Quite understandably political tensions have risen by virtue of the above circumstances.
20. Further delay will in our opinion threaten the rule of law and undermine our democracy
21. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly in the past month that he has his legislative agenda to pursue suggesting further delay in tabling the Motion of no confidence.
22. An Stt’ March 2013 the Leader of the Opposition presented to the Governor General a letter signed by 6 elected representative indicating that they do not support the Prime Minister and will vote in favours of the Motion of no confidence.
Given the close relations between our country and your organization
Respectfully bring the above to your attention.
ST KITTS NEVIS CHAMBER
OF INDUSTRY & COMMERCE
Ron Collins (Bishop)
St Kitts Evangelical Association