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St Kitts-Nevis opposition questions legal capacity of PM
Published on April 18, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Toni Frederick

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The federal opposition in St Kitts and Nevis is considering seeking advice over whether agreements signed by the prime minister since the submission of a motion of no confidence are legally binding, says former deputy prime minister Sam Condor, who has joined forces with the opposition in its bid to have the motion debated.

sam-condor2.jpg
Former Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor
"For all legal reasons, Douglas has no right to be the head of the government, leading the government at this time," Condor told supporters on Friday at a public meeting held on the 16-month anniversary of the submission of the motion.

"That is why we're going to have to review all these agreements made since the motion of no confidence went in, and not debated... we will get legal advice on these matters. But we believe it is [illegal], unlawful and wrong for all these agreements to be made, when he [knows] that he's not legally and legitimately the prime minister," he said.

Condor said the government’s efforts to block the tabling of the motion are a reflection of the prime minister’s history of doing as he pleases with little regard for the constitution.

"After the 2010 elections he got sworn in on the Tuesday and by the Saturday, without swearing in anybody else, he gone to Libya... On his way to Libya he call back home to tell me he going to Libya... so for two weeks after the elections, the only thing happen is Douglas sworn in as the prime minister. We ain't got no more ministers. And then, when Douglas is asked about this, in his usual callous, arrogant style, he say he could go, 'cause he could run the country from a Blackberry," Condor said.

The government has charged that the opposition’s court challenge to the delay in the tabling of the motion effectively barred its debate in the House. Despite a recent court ruling that says there is nothing legally blocking the Speaker from placing it before the National Assembly, the government continues to insist otherwise, and it has also appealed the judgment.

On Friday night Condor also sharply criticized the prime minister’s handling of the constitutional make up of the Parliament.

"In the constitution, they say the second thing you must do after swearing in the speaker, is to swear in the deputy speaker... we after four years of this parliament, we don't have a deputy speaker, and Denzil Douglas in the most disrespectful way of disregarding the constitution ask Ricky to resign the morning before parliament so that he could be elected deputy speaker in order for parliament to proceed, and one hour later resign as deputy speaker, and since that we haven't had a deputy speaker again," he continued.

Cracks in the relationship between the former deputy prime minister and prime minister Douglas became noticeable to those outside the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party when Condor publically denounced a resolution that he disassociate himself with another former minister, Dwyer Astaphan. The rift widened when, the following year, Condor went public with concerns that Douglas was interfering in his ministries and charged that the prime minister was undermining the entire civil service.

In January 2013, he was removed by the prime minister as leader of government business. Three weeks later he resigned from Cabinet and as deputy prime minister, citing issues of good governance and transparency. He and former senior government minister Dr Timothy Harris eventually crossed the floor and formed the People’s Labour Party.

"Take away his trip to Libya, and his disregard of no regard after elections, two weeks without a government in St Kitts, and then when he go to parliament there is no deputy speaker for four years. But we have a motion of no confidence before the parliament for 16 months. The constitution says that a motion of no confidence is a constitutional provision to provide checks and balance to the government. That is what the constitution says," Condor said on Friday.

"It is a perfectly legitimate constitutional provision, which is used by governments all over the world. The tradition is that a motion of confidence must be given priority on the parliamentary agenda, because it is to test the legitimacy, it is to validate the government to make sure that the prime minister has the confidence of the majority of elected members,” he explained.

The High Court has ruled that the non-tabling of the motion is a violation of the constitutional rights of the opposition representatives.

Republished with permission of West Indies News Network
 
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