St. Kitts could head to early elections

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Timothy Harris.
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Timothy Harris.
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II/File

Frustrated members of a ruling coalition in St. Kitts and Nevis have formally filed a motion of no confidence in the administration of Prime Minister Timothy Harris in the midst of a simmering poor governance row that could trigger fresh general elections.

The group includes Harris’ deputy, Shawn Richards who is the leader of one of the coalition’s key political parties-the Political Action Movement (PAM) that had helped Harris’ Team Unity win a landslide victory with nine of the 11 seats in general elections held in June of 2020.

The filing of documents to parliament pertaining to the no confidence motion came just days after at least seven cabinet ministers wrote to Governor General Sir Samuel Seaton indicating that they have lost confidence in the leadership and dictatorial governance style of Harris as the twin island federation with Nevis appears headed for fresh general elections in a matter of months. The GG said he is awaiting “legal advice” on the next steps forward and acknowledged that the letter had reached his desk even as he promised action as soon as possible.

The ministers and coalition party members say they have had it with the leadership of the PM as he has constantly ignored attempts for the group to sit down and discuss a series of highly sensitive and outstanding matters including the need for better housing stocks, an improved system of sharing finance and other resources with Nevis and the implementation of measures to help the poor among other complaints.

“We sent a letter to the governor signed by six of us indicating that we do not support him any longer to be the PM of SK&N so ultimately one expects that when the dust settles there will be a new PM,” Loop Caribbean news reported.

For his part, Harris has lashed back at the group and a third coalition group member- the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM)-hinting to the nation that political ambition on the part of colleagues could be behind the latest split in Team Unity.

“Be aware of certain misgivings in the public domain with respect to the issues raised by the Team Unity partners. I wish to assure you, as your prime minister, that the country remains stable and every effort will be made to maintain the peace and tranquility of our beloved federation,” Harris said in a national broadcast.

The coalition had won a decisive second five year term at the expense of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labor Party (SKNLP) of former long serving prime minister Denzil Douglas amid widespread allegations of endemic corruption in the federation.

Providing details of the rift and apparent split, Deputy PM Richards said Harris has persistently ignored requests for formal meetings but members were willing to compromise if only the PM will.

“Good men cannot continue to stand by and see our nation hurting and not take action. Therefore on Monday 25th April, 2022, the majority of the members of the Team Unity government formally lodged with the clerk of parliament. Let us see if anyone would ring the doorbell or knock on the door of opportunity. However, because of the distrust we have experienced over the years we, PAM and CCM were forced to act in the best interest of St. Kitts-Nevis,” Richards said.

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