Basseterre – At least 32 candidates representing six political parties were nominated on Tuesday in a Carnival-style atmosphere to contest St Kitts & Nevis general elections on August 5 that inccumbent Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris was forced to call three years ahead of the constitutional deadline.
People’s Labour Party (PLP), led by Harris, as well as the main opposition, St Kitts & Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the People’s Action Movement (PAM) are contesting all eight seats on St Kitts, while the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) are contesting the three seats up for grabs on Nevis. The Moral Restoration Movement (MRM) has nominated two candidates in Nevis.
The parties will contest 11 of the 15 seats in Parliament with the other four legislators being nominated by the Governor General following the polls.
Harris was forced to dissolve Parliament on May 10 paving the way for the general election after legislators from PAM and the CCM – two members of the coalition Team Unity government – accounting for seven of the nine seats in the Cabinet filed a motion of no-confidence in the Prime Minister.
Harris scuttled that move by firing the dissidents and indicated he would announce a date for the polls within the stipulated 90-day period.
In a video message, Harris urged voters to ensure that they secure their future “with a growing economy”.
“A future where people are protected and where jobs are being created,” he said. “But this future will not happen by accident. We live in uncertain times … you will decide who to trust to manage the economy in these global uncertain times. Now is not the time to choose inexperience.”
Opposition Leader and former prime minister, Dr Denzil Douglas speaking after being nominated to contest the constituency of St Christopher 6 on behalf of the SKNLP told supporters he was grateful for their vote after first being nominated to contest the seat 33 years ago.
“I thank you again for your support,” he said. “My dear people, so far we are winning the election, but today is another formal step in ensuring that you return the right candidate.
“Now we have another week of serious campaigning. We must go from door to door, use our cell phones … speak to our relatives in the diaspora reminding them that only a few more days for victory. We shall return decency to governance again.”
Douglas stepped down last year as leader of the SKNLP.
The election is taking place amid concerns being raised by the political parties that the measures put in place to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have not been lifted, even though most, if not all Caribbean countries have relaxed those measures.
St Kitts & Nevis still has in place the requirement for pre-travel authorisation, even for nationals to enter the two-island federation.
“Knowing the man that is Timothy Harris, he will do anything, including trying to block PAM people and CCM people and Labour from coming home to vote,” said CCM leader and Nevis Premier, Mark Brantley.
“So we have to be concerned about any effort now to manipulate the entry systems in … frustrating now the efforts of citizens to vote.
“In relation to the travel protocol, I think the concern is a legitimate one.”
SKNLP leader Dr Terrence Drew, a medical practitioner, has in the past called on the government to lift the measure, adding that there is no good medical reason for it to remain in place.