Fellow citizens and residents
I issue this statement in my formal capacity as Leader of the Opposition in St. Kitts and Nevis.
As you are aware, as Leader of the Opposition I presented to the Clerk of the National Assembly some 19 months ago today a Motion of No Confidence in the Prime Minister of the Federation the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas and his Government. It was obvious then as it continues to be now that any debate and vote on that Motion will result in the collapse of Dr. Douglas’ Government. At this time and over the past 19 months, the man who occupies the seat of Prime Ministerdoes not command the support of a majority of elected members in Parliament. Indeed, it is only through being propped up by unelected and unelectable appointees to Parliament that Dr Douglas continues to masquerade at home and abroad as being clothed with the necessary authority to continue as Prime Minister of our beloved Federation.
The Prime Minister like any other Prime Minister in the type of parliamentary democracy practiced in the Federation and in the Commonwealth Caribbean, takes his lawful authority and legitimacy from commanding a majority of support of elected representatives. The people elect parliamentary representatives who in turn select a Prime Minister by lending him a majority of their support. Whenever a Prime Minister loses that majority support of elected Parliamentarians then he loses the support of the majority of the electorate speaking through their electedrepresentatives. The Motion of No Confidence is designed to ensure that there is a check and balance so that the electorate can at all times be sure that he who occupies the chair of Prime Minister is clothed with the constitutional authority and parliamentary legitimacy to do so.
No Government which claims any respect for constitutional authority or respect for democratic traditions and ideals can ignore a Motion which seeks to test the parliamentary support for that Government with impunity. Yet this is exactly what Dr Douglas and his minority have done flagrantly and disrespectfully now for 19 long months.
Since filing the Motion of No Confidence, your loyal Opposition has taken firm and unequivocal steps to demonstrate its support for this constitutionally enshrined process. We have written formally to His Excellency the Governor General indicating majority support for the Motion. We have written to His Excellency further indicating that the majority now supports the Honourable Dr Timothy Harris as Prime Minister.
At this time therefore, the Honourable Dr Harris has more support in Parliament from elected members than he who continues to masquerade as Prime Minister.
We in the Opposition have not been alone in our cries for a restoration of democracy, decency and good governance to our Nation. The Chamber of Industry and Commerce has spoken out against this rank disregard for our Nations cherished democratic ideas. The Evangelical Association and Christian Council have equally spoken out. The Bar Association boasting the finest legal minds in the region has spoken out. Even the High Court has clearly and eloquently spoken to this untenable state of affairs.
Your loyal Opposition has appealed to the Governor General as Head of State. We have appealed to Civil Society. We have appealed to the Courts. We have written to the OECS, CARICOM and friendly international governments. We have marched in the streets of our capital in our thousands. We have not sat idly but have employed every available lawful and peaceful means to resolve this constitutional crisis. Indeed, one prominent OECS leader and crony of Dr Douglas has impliedly castigated us for adopting peaceful means to address this National crisis saying that there is no crisis in St. Kitts and Nevis because we are not causing havoc, mayhem and illegality in the country.
Our response as an Opposition has been a responsible one. We are not given to vacuous boasts about being able to incite. That is for others to do. We are a serious, committed and patriotic group of individuals who despite disparate backgrounds, training and ideology have united under a single abiding all-encompassing theme of Country above Self. Our mission is not self-aggrandisement but the upliftment of our Nation. Our aim is not to create havoc and mayhem but to utilize peace and lawful means to drag this Government kicking and screaming to the altar of democracy. Our restraint has not been a demonstration of weakness but rather the demonstration of tremendous strength.
Through it all the charade in Church Street continues. Dr Douglas continues to make a mockery of himself and our Nation by attending regional and international summits where he must feel unique as being the only Head present who cannot command a majority of support in that which he purportedly heads. Oh how this our beloved Nation must be mocked. Oh how we have become the laughing stock of the region and the world. Oh how the name of St. Kitts and Nevis must now be the subject in Universities and colleges of what not to do.
At 19 months and counting and the Government still running and hiding from the tabling and debate of the Motion of No Confidence, I believe that we have now as a Nation to confront the reality that the Douglas led minority will never permit this Motion to be debated. The Speaker has been rendered impotent and irrelevant in the process that he ought properly to control. All sense of decency, constitutionality and democracy has been sacrificed at the altar of petty party political expediency.
The minority led Administration which even now continues to occupy Church Street has sought to obtain electoral boundary changes to allow it a chance at the polls through gerrymandering. I say to you today that that will not happen. We the Opposition have been and will continue to be vigilant and resolute that this minority construct has neither the constitutional nor the moral authority to seek to change boundaries when it cannot command a majority of support in Parliament.
What then is left? There can be only now one recourse and that is the setting of an immediate date for elections for the people of the Nation to determine who they wish to manage the affairs of the country. Those who have in the past expressed that “Its Working” and who even now with ever lessening enthusiasm declare “Full Confidence” have demonstrated in their fear of both the debate of the Motion and the calling of a fresh election that it is categorically not working and they have not full confidence but rather no confidence at all.
I feel that it is time that this sad episode in the life and times of our Nation be brought to an end. This was not and could never have been the vision of our founding Fathers. This Nation needs now men and women of character, of strength, of unwavering commitment to our country rather than to ourselves. We need men and women who are all of thee and none of self. We need true patriots now to stand up and be counted. This Nation must restore decency and good governance to Church Street. We must together arrest this galloping dictatorship and gross erosion of our democratic ideals.
The Opposition therefore demands that an election date be set and that the people, where ultimate power in any democracy resides, be given an urgent opportunity to go to the polls in free and fair elections and determine who they wish to serve them in Government. In this regard, the Nation will have a clear choice between those who seek to restore democracy and good governance and those who have dedicated themselves to the destruction of the very fabric of our democracy.
Fellow citizens and residents, our democracy was not won overnight. It came about through the struggle and pain of those who went before us. It came about because of their conviction and dedication to an ideal bigger than themselves. It came about through an abiding love of country and a sense that these fair isles of St. Kitts and Nevis can yet achieve greatness. Let us not allow anyone to destroy the gains that we have made. Let us not allow anyone to continue to rape and pillage our resources for the benefit of them and their cronies. It is time that we, you and I, make a stand for our Nation. It is time that St. Kitts and Nevis be restored to that which we hitherto enjoyed, a gleaming beacon on the hill for decency, for good governance, and for our cherished democracy.
In this noble endeavour there can now be only one answer and that answer is Team Unity, one family, one people, one aim, together putting our beloved country above ourselves. I ask you on this sad anniversary for our democracy to join me in demanding immediate elections and allowing you the people to restore decency and good governance to our country.
May God continue to bless you and may his wisdom now be with us as we fight for the very soul of our beloved Nation.
Hon Mark Brantley
Leader of the Opposition