By Clive Bacchus
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The leader of the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) in St Kitts and Nevis, Shawn Richards, has outlined the specific issues the political opposition had with constituency boundaries changes as recommended by the Constituency Boundaries Commission in its report that was struck down by the court on Thursday.
Leader of the Peoples Action Movement, MP Shawn Richards
"We had specific problems with the boundaries changes. First of all, we're saying the government is illegitimate, and as an illegitimate government, you... should not have the authority to change boundaries," Richards told WINN FM on Friday.
"There is a motion of no confidence pending in the Parliament. Had that motion of no confidence been allowed to take its natural course, the government would have fallen since December of 2012. These boundaries changes did not go to Parliament until September of 2013... some nine months after the motion of no confidence had been filed," he explained.
"We also are of the view that an attempt was being made to gerrymander the boundaries. In my case, for example... we saw a direct attempt to split the constituency in two, and we are not satisfied that, even though it would appear at the end of the day that the [constituencies] would have a similar amount of inhabitants, it was being done merely to achieve that particular purpose but more so to affect certain members of parliament to give the Labour Party a victory at the next general election,” Richards said.
The government has argued that it is not illegitimate because it has not faced a motion of no confidence and therefore it is an active government. Richards does not accept that position.
"Justice Ramdhani... had given a decision earlier this year, in regards to the preliminary matter... relative to the motion of no confidence, in which he clearly pointed out that the legitimacy of any government rests on its ability to command a support of a majority of the members of parliament. In this case, the government side only has five persons, the opposition side has six persons, and as such the government is illegitimate and should not be allowed to undertake boundaries changes in St Kitts and Nevis,” he explained.
The PAM leader said that the court's ruling on the matter was instructive, in that there has been no sitting of Parliament since that judgment was handed down earlier in the year.
"So that had we gone to court before, the government probably would not have reached this stage, but more importantly had the motion of no confidence been debated, the government would not have been able to reach to this stage with regards to changing boundaries,” he said.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network