St Kitts PM challenged to step down

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, January 30, 2009 – Ex National Security Minister Dwyer Astaphan has criticized the leadership style of Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas, calling on him to identify someone else to head the ruling St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party and take over the reigns of government.

But Douglas has so far refused to be drawn into any exchange of words with Astaphan, who resigned from the Cabinet in July 2008, saying that “in a healthy democracy, freedom of speech is a good thing”.

Astaphan had accused the St Kitts leader of ruling over the Cabinet “like someone who is the sole electee there rather than like one of a number of electees”. He said Douglas must remove himself from the helm of the party.

“In the best interests of the government, the Labour Party and the country, the signal should be sent that within three to six months Dr Douglas will step down, then the party will elect a new leader, and that new leader will be Prime Minister,” he told a press conference.

“Most of the negative perceptions and feelings towards the Labour Party revolve around Dr Douglas himself and many Labour supporters have drifted off into indifference, disenchantment, anger and alienation. These supporters would greet the news of a new leader with a fresh, re-energised, and positive outlook.”

But in a statement responding to Astaphan’s comments, Douglas said he holds no personal animosity towards the former minister.

“It must be noted that only recently the Prime Minister approved the appointment of Mr Astaphan as a consultant to the Ministry of Legal Affairs to assist the Government in overhauling the nation’s Labour laws,” it added.

Prime Minister Douglas, who has to call a general election here by October, added that he remains focused on advancing the socio-economic and political interests of the twin-island federation.