By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The alleged illegitimacy of the current St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party government came under scrutiny over the weekend as representatives of the various political parties in the federation debated the matter. A panel on Winn FM’s Inside the News programme was asked whether a pending motion of no confidence should affect the right and authority of a government to transact business on behalf of the country.
It’s now 14 months since the parliamentary opposition filed a motion of no confidence in the current administration of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas. It was filed on December 11, 2012, by the opposition leader in the federal parliament, Mark Brantley. The combined parliamentary opposition has six elected MPs in the House to the five held by the governing party. It is likely that if the motion is heard the government will lose the vote, and the opposition and its supporters claim that the prime minister is using his influence to delay the hearing of the motion.
They have also labeled the Douglas administration illegitimate because the prime minister no longer has the majority of elected members in the House. One of the panelists on the Inside the News programme, social commentator Sylvene Henry, argued that the pending motion should impact on the government’s right to transact business on behalf of the federation.
“I would say in the short term they have the right,” Henry said.
However, she added, “When you have this protracted thing where it is drawn out unnecessarily, they have lost the right and the authority to govern.”
According to her, “The prime minister has been acting as if he is in his own world, he and his colleagues, his Cabinet. Because of the lack of conscience on the part of the leader, the government has lost the right to transact business in this country.”
However Labour Party spokesman Austin Edinborough contended that the governing party has the legitimate right to conduct affairs of national interest even though there has been a protracted delay in the motion of no confidence being tabled, debated and voted on.
“Because any government that has a mandate to function gets the mandate from the people. And that is why the first option that the constitution gives with regard to a successful passage of a motion of no confidence is for it to be taken back to the people,” Edinborough said.
He said the constitution recognizes that “it is the people that give any and every government its legitimacy”.
The government spokesman made reference to the next general election being due in 2015, and seemed to be suggesting that the administration should go to its full term. There appears to be consensus, however, that the country will go into a general election before the motion is heard.
Both sides of the political divide are already actively campaigning, and the prime minister has indicated that he will call the elections sooner rather than later.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network