The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer.
By Rohan Charles. (Edited at 9:45 a.m., Wednesday, June 10, 2020, with changes from the author).
Opinion: The people of St. Kitts and Nevis, under a state of emergency on June 5 2020, reelected the Team Unity government into office for a second term.
This, from my research is the first time in the Caribbean an election was conducted under such conditions.
The government is a collation between three parties the Peoples Action Movement “PAM”, headed by Shawn Richards Deputy Prime Minister, People’s Labour Party “PLP”, headed by the Prime Minister Timothy Harris and Concern Citizens Movement CCM headed by Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley.
It’s interesting to note that Timothy Harris’ party only secured two seats with PAM having four and CCM three.
Traditional CCM normally partner with PAM. Keeping and eye on how things play out in St Kitts and Nevis in the next couple of years will be something one should do.
PAM and CCM can form government without PLP. However, Dr Timothy Harris has already been sworn in today June 7 2020.
With the state of emergency in place and a global pandemic affecting everyone the election campaign was conducted almost in it’s entity virtually.
This might be a new reality as to how campaigns are conducted in the short term future at the very least. The NDP here in St Vincent and the Grenadines has already started using this format to campaign.
Now interestingly, in St Kitts for weeks now there has been no reported active case of Covid19.
So, is a state of emergency really necessary there at this time? When one is under a state of emergency, the movement and activities of the people are limited.
The government in office can use this to their advantage. They are the ones setting the conditions. Certainly they are going to set them to their advantage.
They are the ones who decide how big the stimulus package is going to be. They are the ones with the purse and can decide to give everyone a thousand dollars and call it Covid relief. Who can call it bribery?
The country is under a state of emergency the government is just helping its citizens maneuver hard times. So the government with the country’s purse at its disposal is at a much greater advantage than the opposition.
Then to observe the election only a three member Caricom team was allowed in a day before the elections. That same day one observer reported that the process is being tampered with.
On polling day, some polling stations opened more than three hours late. A number of other irregularities were reported including voters not finding names.
Additionally, the head of the OAS through a tweet said that the OAS had a team ready to travel but the invitation was withdrawn. Was this done so the election process will not be placed under further scrutiny? Was there anything to hide?
Now let’s bring it home. This is an election year in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Imagine if the Prime Minister had done as was suggested. He was hauled over the coals for not doing what even the opposition called for. Lock the country down, close borders, call a state of emergency then call a snap election. In the process he doubled the stimulus package.
Double unemployment benefits, double the Pryme grants. The cry will be dictator, bribery, election rigging, unfair advantage. The cry will be he close borders so that Fitz Bramble can’t get home to run and the list would have been endless.
However, we have not heard one word against what Timothy Harris did from those who are running to congratulate him on a great victory. The same people who if the Prime Minister was to withdraw an invitation to the OAS will be saying its became he want to thief the elections.
The cries would have been heard if he was to only allowed three Caricom observers in a day before polls. Can you imagine he discarding the list of returning officers compiled by the supervisor of elections and using his family members?
As my close friend from St Kitts said what ever Dr Timothy Harris got his PHD in she is going for it cause say want you want about Dr Douglas, Tim is the real G. Setting precedent with elections in a state of emergency and being a minority party yet Prime Minister.
Outdated boundaries over thirty years old which he at one time wanted changed but after five years he did nothing. Allegations of nepotism and misappropriation yet no one seems to care.
In contrast, the man (the leader of St. Vincent) labelled a dictator, a communist, and all manner of evil has refused to implement those drastic measures.
Nobody’s freedom of movement has been curtailed and people go about their business without almost no restrictions (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines).
Every election observer from the Commonwealth, OAS, OECS and locals has observed election here at the invitation of the man they call dictator.
These elections were all declared free and fair save for few irregularities. But, those congratulating Team Unity call our elections stolen.