St Kitts deputy PM sides with dismissed senior cabinet minister

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Tuesday January 29, 2013 – Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor continued his public spat with Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas by publicly opposing his decision to dismiss senior government minister Dr. Timothy Harris over the weekend.

In a statement, Condor, who has sided with Harris on opposition a number of government measures and policies in the past, said he found “no justification in the reasons postulated by the Hon. Prime Minister for the dismissal of Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris”.

He said Harris as an elected parliamentarian “stood in duty and in conscience to articulate deep concerns regarding the impact that certain Bills before Parliament could have on our nation and nation’s people.

“Dr. Harris stood in accordance with his oath, as he was obligated to do and to do without fear or favour. Indeed, the law of the land protects him in that regard,” Condor said, adding “as such, I am of the view that this decision taken against Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris is wrong, ill-conceived and not in the best interest of national stability and unity”.

Less than 72 hours after warning his two senior ministers that they should either resign or submit their resignations if they intended to oppose the government policies, Prime Minister Douglas fired Harris  because of his opposition to two recent government-sponsored legislation, including one to increase the number of senators in the National Assembly.

In addition, he said Timothy, who is also expected to be stripped of his party chairmanship position when the SKNLP holds a special convention, the date for which has not yet been named, had refused to indicate how he would vote on the national budget and on an opposition inspired motion of no confidence in the St. Kitts-Nevis government.

“Specifically Senior Minister Harris has refused to support the Government- sponsored…Vesting of Certain Land Act.  He has indicated to the Cabinet and to the entire country that he will not support the Government-sponsored Senators Increased of Number Bill.

“He has consistently refused to confirm to the Cabinet that he will support the budget when it comes before parliament for approval, and he has refused to confirm to Cabinet that he will vote against a Motion of No Confidence in the Government of which he is a Senior Minister,” Dr. Douglas said in his broadcast.

In his statement, Condor said  that it is well documented that both he and Harris are both opposed to the Bills regarding the Land for Debt Swap and the Increase in Senators, “on the ground that they are contrary to the best interest of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“And mindful as we are of the fact that the philosophy and tradition of the Labour Party has always been in keeping with the aspirations for empowerment of the masses of this our beloved country. We are committed servants to this philosophy,” he said, adding “I am of the considered view that our position taken is principled and morally and philosophically correct”.

The Deputy Prime Minister said it cannot be just or right to penalize or victimize Harris, whom he described as “a conscientious servant of the people, for taking a stand that is principled and just.

“True stalwarts of Labour and all people of conscience would condemn such heavy handed action by Prime Minister Douglas against Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris,” he said, adding that the prime minister’s claim that Harris has been uncooperative, because of a desire to be Prime Minister, “is unfounded and lends itself to the maligning of Dr. Harris.

“Frankly, there is far too much at stake, at this time of mounting crisis in our country. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by side shows and postulating which have brought the country to this moment of crisis in the first place.”

Over the weekend, Harris dared Prime Minister Dr. Douglas to allow parliament to debate an opposition inspired vote of no confidence in his administration.

Harris said that Dr. Douglas does not command the support of a majority of legislators in the parliament “and should now do the honourable thing and resign, or call a general election.

“Put it to the people.  He does not command a majority of Members of Parliament at this particular moment in time and so if he want to talk about procedures and support let him put that to the test, and I challenge him on Tuesday then, if he think he has, bring the Vote of No Confidence on Tuesday,” Timothy said on a local radio station here.

Opposition Leader Mark Brantley has filed the vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Douglas, but the government has said the motion would only be debated in keeping with the legislative agenda of the parliament. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)