BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Thursday February 26, 2015, CMC – Former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas Thursday blamed acts of sabotage for the defeat of his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) in the February 16 general election.
Dr. Douglas in his first news conference since Team Unity, an amalgam of three political parties won seven of the 11 seats at stake in the general election, said that the sabotage had also extended to the flights carrying SKNLP supporters back to the twin island Federation to cast their ballots.
The former prime minister told reporters that the St. Kitts-Nevis constitution permits nationals residing overseas to return home to vote and that all political parties had encouraged their overseas supporters to do so in the past.
“The 2015 election was no exception,” he said, noting that while every single plane bringing supporters of Team Unity had arrived here with no complications, “a series of highly concerning and downright creepy developments repeatedly botched the arrival of our planes”.
He said passenger lists changed “mysteriously and repeatedly right before the eyes of Labour supporters as they were waiting to board various flights home.
“Pre-arranged, pre-approved, and completely agreed upon stops disappeared from planes’ schedules. Pilots at overseas airports were indicating to us that they had been denied landing rights for various places while those places were indicating to us directly that there were no problems whatsoever, and that the flights in question had, most certainly, been cleared to land.”
He said that the apartment of a key party individual had been broken into and his computer stolen.
“As though this was not enough, a bomb scare was actually called in on one of the flights on which our people were scheduled to travel,” he said, referring the incidents to the “dirty tricks” surrounding the Watergate break-ins in 1972 Presidential elections in the United States.
“I can say, without fear of contradiction, that had our flights, as well, been able to land, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party would now be continuing the tremendous work which has made St. Kitts-Nevis the bright spot of the region.
“However, we, who stand here before you, are strong. We are not easily distracted or discouraged. The facts surrounding all of these extreme peculiarities will most assuredly be brought into the full light of day. And we will continue to advance the interests of this country- our country as members of the Opposition in our National Assembly.” Dr. Douglas told reporters.
Dr. Douglas, who was seeking to become the first regional head of government to win five consecutive general elections, said thathe was also perturbed at developments occurring in the twin island Federation following the election results.
He said despite a “fiercely intense and indeed bruising election campaign” in 1995 when he first came to head a government here, he had allowed for various officials including the then personal secretary of the outgoing prime minister Dr. Kennedy Simmonds “to continue working in that capacity with me until she felt that she had completed whatever transitional responsibilities had to be take care of.
“It was my view that that was what basic human decency demanded. Based on that, I had assumed that my personal secretary, Ms. Beverly Knight, would be accorded the same courtesies. Instead, she was locked out from both her office and mine.
“She has been unable, despite her repeated entreaties, to retrieve either her personal belongings or mine from our offices, leaving us to ask exactly what this portends for the governance style” of the new administration.
The SKNLP leader said that his personal secretary is not alone in that regard with “countless civil servants” being denied access to their offices and indeed escorted from same by armed police officers.
“In addition to these developments, however, there remains certain substantive matters that must be resolved. The matter of the boundaries being key among them.”
Dr. Douglas said that both the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal as well as the High Court have affirmed that the process by which these boundaries were established was “legitimate, legal, and constitutional.
“And even though the Labour Party is not now in office, the grossly unequal state of the Federation’s current boundaries must, as a matter of priority, be corrected.
“The Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis cannot, and must not, go into yet another election with one constituency containing almost 8,000 inhabitants with another just over 2,000. This is a matter which simply must be attended to without delay,” Dr. Douglas told reporters.
He said he has left a St. Kitts-Nevis that had become the envy of the Caribbean in terms of its socio-economic development and was now prepared with his other opposition legislators to continue protecting “the interests of our two islands”.