(Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 18, 2013) There is something happening in St. Kitts-Nevis to which all Caribbean Governments and opposition parties need to pay attention. They need to do so because it has a direct bearing on Caribbean Governments’ ability to function in an atmosphere of Party integrity and stability.
A member of the ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Cabinet unilaterally decided late last year that it was time for him to replace the sitting and recently re-elected Prime Minister of the Federation. Instead of challenging the Prime Minister and Party Leader for the leadership of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, however, and instead of doing this within the structure of the Party’s annual conferences, he decided to place his Labour seat at the disposal of the opposition parties, in order that together they might bring down his own Labour Government, in exchange for a promise of his being named prime minister in a new coalition Government.
This Cabinet Member – now removed from Cabinet – had and has every right to reject the leadership of Prime Minister and Party Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas. He further has every right – without question – to join forces with any political party he wishes to. What he did not and does NOT have the right to do, however, is to hold on to the seat that he acquired as a result of the reputation, funding, and campaigning of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, while doing everything in his power to bring down the Labour-led Government. This Member should, instead, immediately  resign the seat won as a result of the work and influence of the Labour Party,  present himself, in a by-election, to voters as a member of the new Party he has established, and  allow the voters in that constituency to decide, in that by-election, whether it is he – the individual – they wish to represent their constituency, or whether it is the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party , for which they voted in 2010, that they wish to see represented in that seat.
Tensions and rivalries are bound to erupt whenever human beings are engaged in group undertakings. This is both normal and healthy. The stability of Caribbean nations and Governments will be severely undermined, however, if elected officials with gripes of one kind or another begin holding Governments of which they are a part hostage, while simultaneously working with opposition parties and refusing to allow voters to express, in a by-election, whether they approve of their votes being used to place in office the opposition against which they had overwhelmingly voted.
This maneuver by this official in St. Kitts-Nevis must not be allowed to take root in Caribbean politics. It betrays the will of voters, violates the integrity of the party system, and would help to fracture the tradition of stable and responsible governance for which Caribbean nations have, for so long, been known.