BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – PRIME MINISTER Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas has formally dissolved the Federal Parliament, setting the stage for the long-awaited general elections in St. Kitts-Nevis.
PM Douglas made the announcement during a national address last evening (Dec. 15) on ZIZ Television and Radio Stations, mere hours before the National Assembly would have automatically dissolved.
“I have today, in accordance with Section 47 subsection 4 of the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis, advised His Excellency the Governor General, Dr. Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, to dissolve the Parliament of St. Christopher and Nevis with immediate effect in order that we may prepare the way for the general elections that we have all been so eager to hold.
“In the weeks ahead, by the power vested in me, I shall announce the date on which we will all go to the polls to decide in whose hands we shall place the future of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Douglas said.
Section 47 subsection 2 of the Constitution states that Parliament, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date of its first sitting after any dissolution. The National Assembly first met on December 16, 2004, two months after that year’s general elections.
The Constitution further dictates that an election must be held within 90 days of dissolution. Although Douglas remained tight-lipped about such a date in his address, Kittitians and Nevisians will be going to the polls no later than March 15, 2010.
Representatives from the Commonwealth, CARICOM and the OAS will be present to observe the elections.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity to take shots at main opposition party the People’s Action Movement (PAM), claiming it was trying to stir “tumult and mayhem” in the country. He made reference to the ongoing legal battle between his government and PAM over electoral boundary changes, a clash that resulted in the imposition of an injunction on any report containing such alterations.
“My government deemed it essential to do everything in its power to put policies and procedures in place that would block any future attempts at electoral fraud and inject a greater element of justice and equity into the system, as far as the size of our respective electoral constituencies is concerned...You are aware, however, of the obstacles that PAM has been attempting to place in our path in this regard in order to create a general air of tumult and mayhem, and in order to once again use manoeuvres in the courts to distract from their failures at the ballot box,” Douglas charged.
“Our sincere attempts to create more equitable constituencies remain before the courts, compliments of PAM. And so, we approach new elections just as we emerged from the last one - with PAM attempting to frustrate the people’s business and frustrate confusion via the courts, and the government attending to the people’s business,” he added.
The Kittitian-Nevisian leader also dealt with another of PAM’s allegations, emphatically stating that his ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) was not afraid to contest elections under the old boundaries.
“The people of St. Kitts and Nevis have delivered massive victories to the SKNLP based on these boundaries. In addition, the dramatic transformations in the physical, economic, social, and political infrastructure of our nation by my party have impressed upon the voters of St. Kitts and Nevis the competence, the effectiveness and the social and economic progress that successive Labour administrations have delivered.
“So no. My government had no reluctance and has no reluctance in going to the polls on the existing boundaries,” Douglas declared.