Opposition leader Mark Brantley, flanked by Team Unity Leader Dr Timothy Harris (left) and PAM leader Shawn Richards (Photo: SKN Vibes)
By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Team Unity, the opposition alliance in St Kitts and Nevis, has expressed concern that the country is being run without parliamentary oversight and governance institutions.
According to the opposition, it is now well over six months since the federal parliament last met.
Team Unity has been boycotting the House because of the non-tabling of a motion of no confidence, which will be 20 months old on Monday (August 11).
Speaking at a Team Unity news conference on Thursday, opposition senator, Vincent Byron, expressed concern over what he described as a lack of parliamentary oversight, apparently prompted by the motion of no confidence stalemate.
"This government, this administration... has not called any sitting of Parliament since December or January of this year... the country is being run without any parliamentary oversight with most things that are happening here," Byron told the press.
"We know that large sums of money are being spent. We know that a number of issues of great and grave significance that are happening in the country. We have recently been told that 18,000 passports have been issued over the last 30 months, all without any place of origin... there has been no statement coming from this executive... we in Parliament are not allowed to question and have a report to the people in the Parliament on any of these matters," he asserted.
"I'm saying, that now we have come to 20 months... I'm saying in August 2014 that this is unacceptable, and the people of St Kitts and Nevis need to... have the resolve that this government should now prepare itself to face the voters of this country, to allow them to determine who they want to lead them forward."
So what can be done about the parliamentary stalemate? That's a question WINN FM put to the opposition leader in the federal parliament, Mark Brantley.
He contended that various institutions of government have collapsed.
"The Parliament has collapsed. The Speaker of our Parliament has... through his actions has demonstrated that he is not fit to hold that office. The government side, with a minority of elected members, [continues] and I think the word I've heard is masquerade, and they continue to masquerade as a government, and so we have seen a systematic corrosion... of the institutions of our government, the pillars of our constitution and the Parliament has been rendered impotent... so the observation made by Senator Byron that we are in a state of affairs here where... there is no parliament oversight is accurate," Brantley said.
He stated that the only resolution was to go back to the people for a mandate.
"Say to all of those who wish to be in Parliament that they must seek a mandate from the people. It is obviously the people who ultimately determine who sits in Parliament. It is in the hands of the people, the power to elect ultimately lies in their hands, and so I think that has to be the solution. Going to Parliament and having a minority government propped up by appointed senators is really unconscionable and unacceptable,” he said.
Brantley was scathing of Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas for the existing parliamentary situation and the status of the pending motion of no confidence.
"The mere fact that nothing can occur in Parliament save with the help of appointed individuals, where the majority of elected individuals sits on the other side. Where we not only sit there, we have communicated formally to His Excellency the Governor General that one, we do not support Prime Minister Douglas... and two, we support someone else, and so there is sitting here Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, who we have gone on record in a formal way to say to the governor general to say that is whom the majority of elected members support," the opposition leader said.
"So if we're talking about legitimacy. If we're talking about ultimately the people voting for elected representatives, putting them in Parliament and therefore those elected representatives then determine who amongst them they will lend their support to, it is obvious that Dr Douglas has lost that support, and he has lost it now for quite some time,” he continued.
Brantley said the opposition will not waste its time trying to urge the prime minister to ask the governor general to prorogue Parliament because he is sure that any such request would be completely ignored.
"The truth is, I do not know now that any appeal to Dr Douglas will yield any benefit," he said.
"We find ourselves in a situation where even... official, formal correspondence to his Excellency is not acknowledged. That is how far we have fallen as a nation. That is how corrosive the... current approach to governance has taken us, where the head of state can ignore formal communication from not just the opposition or members of the opposition, but indeed from the elected majority. It tells you that what we have here is... a destruction, if you will, of all our institutions of governance, and thank God for the court,” Brantley concluded.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network