St. Kitts PM dethroned

St. Kitts PM dethroned
Dr. Denzil Douglas, former prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Associated Press / Jason DeCrow, File

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, whose St. Kitts and Nevis Labor Party (SKNLP) had ruled the twin-island federation for four consecutive five-year terms, was dethroned in Monday’s general elections.

Team Unity, an amalgam of three opposition parties, headed by Douglas’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, 51, won the elections with seven of 11 Parliamentary seats, according to Supervisor of Elections, Wingrove George.

George, who had suspended the vote count on Monday night amid uneasiness in the State, made the announcement on Tuesday.

While not giving figures for each seat contested, promising to do so later, George said the remaining four seats were won by the SKNLP and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), which had joined forces to contest the elections.

The newly-launched People’s Labor Party (PLP), the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) of Nevis’ Premier Vance Amory and the long-standing opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) comprised Team Unity.

Successful Team Unity candidates were Harris, an economist; Amory; Shawn Richards; Eugene Hamilton; Ian Patrick Liburd; Lindsay Grant; and Mark Brantley, opposition leader in the last Parliament.

Victors for SKNLP/NRP were Douglas; Marcella Liburd, former health minister; Conrad Maynard and Patrice Nisbett.

In conceding defeat, Douglas, in a nationwide radio and television address, extended “sincere congratulations” to Team Unity, adding that it was a “sacred honor” to lead the nation for two decades.

“To the friends and members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labor Party, you have my undying gratitude,” he said. “We, in St. Kitts and Nevis, are among the blessed of the earth. And we are among the blessed of the earth because our governments are chosen, not by force, not by decree, not by the whim of any force or interest, but by the will of the people.”

“I shall forever cherish having been given the opportunity to lead the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Douglas added. “The elections are now over, and although we still await the announcement of the preliminary results, I wish our newly elected government well.”

Meantime, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS/EOM) in St. Kitts and Nevis, led by Ambassador Frank Almaguer, congratulated the citizens of the country for their “active participation” in the general elections.

The EOM said there was high voter turnout and that citizens demonstrated “civil and peaceful exercise of their franchise on Election Day.”

The Mission, however, noted that the counting and transmission of results was “extremely slow, stemming from a series of procedural difficulties.”

“More than 12 hours after the closing of the polls, there was no information on the outcome of the election, leading to speculation and uncertainty among Kittitians and Nevisians,” it said, adding that the delay in the dissemination of results was related to two main issues.

First, it said counting started late due to instructions given to returning officers with regard to the transportation of the ballot boxes of the early voting, carried out on Feb. 14 for essential services personnel and security forces.

Second, the Mission said challenges were presented during the counting process, and that some of the results were being contested.

But despite the problems encountered after the closing of the polls, the EOM said it was pleased to observe that in general, Election Day was carried out in an “orderly and pacific manner.”

The Mission congratulated Prime Minister-elect Timothy Harris and the St. Kitts and Nevis Team Unity for the victory in the general elections and calls on all actors to respect the official results announced by the electoral authorities.

In defending his decision in delaying the election results, George said on national radio that returning officers had until Feb. 16 “to give me the final decision,” based on “the writ issued by the governor general.”

“So even though it might be long, it is not unlawful, it is not illegal, and they would not go wrong in taking their time to do what they have to do,” he said.

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