Nevis Opposition warns of growing tension on the island
- Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012 08:28
- Written by Clive Bacchus
- Hits: 1449
Basseterre, St. Kitts (WINN): Leaders of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) are warning of tension and instability on Nevis in the wake of the Appeal Court’s ruling that the St John’s Nevis District election is null and void, leaving the ruling Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) and the Opposition CCM with two seats each in the Nevis Island Assembly.
Wednesday CCM leaders described a meeting with Governor General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, to discuss the way forward for local elections on the island, as “exploratory” and “tentative.”
“We raised the matter of the decision and we are concerned about how we should move forward as a result of this decision and our discussions were really tentative, exploratory and we are happy that he gave us that audience,” CCM Leader Vance Amory said during an interview on WINN FM 98.9.
His Deputy Mark Brantley, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Federal Parliament, struck a more militant tone, warning of tension in Nevis over the attitude of the NRP since the Court’s ruling.
“I want to make it very clear that the situation in Nevis is incredibly tense,” Brantley said.
He said while the Concerned Citizens Movement has a mantra of “doing what is decent and reasonable and right for the people of Nevis,” the party’s leaders were having a difficult time “seeking to placate and to pacify and to insist that our people be patient.”
“That is a very hard task to do our any extended period of time,” Brantley insisted.
“People are agitated, people feel that they were denied of the government of their choice last year and that feeling has now been vindicated not by one judge but now by four…” Brantley charged while decrying the response of the NRP to the Court’s decision.
“The attitude that we have got from the NRP is not one of contrition, not one of apology, not one of any humility but rather one of bombast, one where they continue to insist that they are the government...” he said Wednesday.
“I heard a statement from Hensley Daniel, a man just kicked out of office and told that he did not win a seat, to say that he resigned but still go on to say that he won in 2006 and he won in 2011. The Court just told him he didn’t win anything but yet that is the attitude,” Brantley said.
“We are fearful that in that environment of instability, it is absolutely critical that the Head of State be apprised and understand that any delay in having an election to fill the vacant seat in St. John’s, and properly and constitutionally, constitute the government of Nevis, is going to create very real tension and very real possibility for chaos and confusion in our country,” he warned.
“We do not wish that. As a matter of fact we actively advocate against it but we are mindful of the mood and we felt it important to come and to speak to the Head of State and to apprise him of our fears and ask him to ask him to act, in consistent with his authority and constitutional powers as head of state, because you have two-two situation Nevis, two to the CCM, two to the NRP and the NRP cannot feel they can continue in office in perpetuity , they cannot feel they can delay the people going back to the polls to elect the government of their choice.”
“The people knew what happened last year. We are aware of what has happened, the court has now put out there for the word their findings in terms of what has happened and we are saying enough is enough and it is high time that people be given the opportunity, as 21st century democracies, modern democracies work, to be given an opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice and elect the party of their choice to serve in the Nevis Island Administration,” the CCM Deputy Leader said.
Under current rules, the NRP has within 90 days of Monday (August 27) to call a by-election for the vacant seat, or Premier Joseph Parry can dissolve the Nevis island Assembly and call general elections within 90 days of that dissolution, according to a legal expert.
The Premier also determines the election and under current rules can in effect stretch the process for an election as long as 179 days, the expert added.
The Appeal Court Justices delivered a scathing appraisal of top election officials for their mishandling of due process, describing Registration Officer Bernadette Lawrence as demonstrating “bias, bad faith and misfeasance,” and the Supervisor of Elections Leroy Benjamin of showing “reckless indifference as to whether he was breaking the law or causing injury.”
At issue were breaches in procedure for hearing of objections to names of the Voters List with some 113 people receiving notices of the hearing less than five days before, or on or after, the dates of the hearing.
Also, the refusal by Mr. Benjamin to publish the revised Voters List, despite written reminders to do so, that resulted in people being unaware that their names were removed from the list, and their being denied the right to cast their ballot.
Daniel was declared winner of the St John’s District Nevis by 14 votes over the CCM’s Mark Brantley, after last year’s island elections.
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