Groups urge Harris to name election date in St Kitts

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Churches and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have written to Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris urging him to name a date for the general election, warning also that a code of conduct should be implemented to ensure “the society is not plunged into election induced chaos” as voters in this twin island Federation prepare to elect a new government.

In their June 8 letter to Harris, the churches and the NGOs listed several issues they want the relevant authorities to take into consideration, including a pre-election period of sensitivity, neutrality in the electoral process, the delay in announcing the election date and the abuse of office.

“We are of the firm view that the execution of the Code of Conduct should be mandatory after every dissolution of the National Assembly to ensure that our society is not plunged into election-induced chaos, as emotions are heightened during election campaigns. We, therefore, anticipate your soonest execution of the Code of Conduct in your capacity as Political Leader of the People’s Labour Part,” the groups wrote in their letter.

The letter was sent by the St Kitts Christian Council; the St Kitts Evangelical Association; the Nevis Christian Council; the Nevis Evangelical Association; The St Kitts Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce; and the St Kitts and Nevis Bar Association.

Harris is yet to announce a date for the election after he dismissed several of his ministers, asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament as his coalition Team Unity government collapsed because of internal wrangling.

Legislators of two of the coalition  – the People’s Action Movement (PAM) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) – that controlled seven of the nine seats in Cabinet, had filed a motion of no confidence in Harris, but he scuttled that move by having the Parliament dissolved.

In their letter, the groups said they were also raising “some concerns observed by our non-governmental organizations which can diminish our people’s confidence in our electoral system, create social instability, cause widespread anxiety, negatively affect the local economic climate, and undermine the respect for true democracy and the rule of law in our Federation.”

On the issue of pre-election period of sensitivity, the letter noted that the “Executive, led by your Cabinet of Ministers, should refrain from implementing major policy decisions that are likely to commit an incoming Government. (CMC)

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