Why is CARICOM mute? Joint NDP/TEAM UNITY Press Conference March 10, 2014
Let me begin my presentation by quoting from the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s letter of April 1963, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
My fellow CARICOM nationals, I am here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on this day, at this hour, when CARICOM Member States have gathered at the 25th Intercessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). I am here as a humble citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis. I am also here too as a member of parliament and as the Leader of the TEAM UNITY political movement in St. Kitts and Nevis, to let you know that all is not well in our country. I am here to tell you, as, Comrades, brothers and sisters of a common heritage and purpose, that we the people of St. Kitts and Nevis are no less desiring and are no less deserving of freedom, justice and democracy, than the rest of our CARICOM neighbours.
The CARICOM Charter of Civil Society (The Charter) sets out the fundamental principles that are to govern our CARICOM region, as regard to human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, and good governance. The Charter reaffirms confidence in CARICOM as an association of sovereign states and territories committed to those fundamental principles outlined within a Caribbean integration framework.
When these principles are being transgressed and undermined in any member state, it behooves CARICOM Heads to take note and to act responsibly. Article XVII of the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society deals with good governance and the rule of law and in St. Kitts and Nevis, under the Douglas regime, we are experiencing a vicious, calculated and deliberately provocative attack on good governance, the rule of law and constitutional democracy.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
When we see our brothers and sisters suffering anywhere around the world, we should always hear them, and speak with one loud, clear voice and act to end their plight. And when it hits closer to home on the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, we should not hesitate to act with deliberate haste for the sake and in the spirit of our ancestors who bled and died for the rights and freedoms that we now enjoy today.
On this note, let me on behalf of the citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, extend our deepest appreciation and admiration for the sterling work and leadership of Arnhim Eustace, the distinguished Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly and political leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. When this chapter is written in history, it will be revealed that the Hon. Arnhim Eustace showed courage of conviction and spoke “truth to power” and he fought for democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis as valiantly as he continues to fight for it in his own St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We will always be indebted to this outstanding son of our Caribbean Civilization, whose integrity and vision for the region is unrivaled and unmatched.
CARICOM thus far, has ignored the legitimate cries of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis for justice and democracy, whilst paying special attention to Venezuela and the Ukraine.
Why? Some have said that it is because that in St. Kitts and Nevis we are not creating civil unrest, there is no public disorder, there is no looting and burning and killing. So the people of Venezuela and the Ukraine come in for special attention from CARICOM for unlawful behavior, while the peace loving people of St. Kitts and Nevis are ignored, forgotten and unrewarded for good public behaviour.
It appears that CARICOM leaders will not speak on the issues of political morality, the continuous and deliberate breaches of our constitution, the undermining of democratic systems and institutions and the threat to freedom and democracy as we know it, until the people of St. Kitts and Nevis do like the people of Venezuela and the Ukraine, and start killing each other.
Well, we in TEAM UNITY do not agree with that notion. We think it is a false proposition, because we see the civil unrest in the eyes of the people. We feel their uncertainty and despair because under this illegitimate Douglas regime, they do not know what the future holds. Our people are tired of the illegitimate Prime Minister, who feels compelled to kick and sell our citizens.
Our people are tired of being disrespected as human beings by a misleader who calls them “hogs” and vulgarly describes our women folk as “asses“. Our people are suffering under a callous and incompetent misleader and you, our brothers and sisters in CARICOM, need to know that our struggle is your struggle. You need to know that when we suffer you suffer too.
The Caribbean will never reach its full potential as long as we have leaders who oppress and exploit their own people. Albert Einstein once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Silence can be as deafening as the loudest voice.
St. Kitts and Nevis wants the restoration of our constitutional democracy. We want a government who’s right to govern is validated by the mandate of a majority of elected members of parliament. We want compliance with the ruling of the High Court Judge delivered on February 12th 2014, in “The Motion Of No Confidence” Case.
The judgment vindicated our right as members of parliament to move a Motion Of No Confidence (MONC) in the government and to have it tabled, debated and voted on as a matter of priority within a reasonable time. That judgment rejected the argument advanced by the Douglas regime and the Speaker of the National Assembly, that the MONC was “subjudice” and therefore they could not deal with the MONC. Justice Ramdhani saw through the fallacy, the misrepresentation and the trickery of the government, and found that there was no prejudice to the interests of the parties from the tabling and the debating of the MONC.
Fifteen long months. 454 long days have passed since the MONC has been filed and a recalcitrant government acting without constitutional basis, has refused to table the MONC, and face the consequences. Rather, in an act of gross provocation and megalomania, the illegitimate Prime Minister, wants to gerrymander the electoral boundaries to secure an elusive political advantage, at a time when an elected majority in parliament (the de jure government) stands in opposition to it. What a travesty. What an absurdity.
CARICOM Must Act NOW, to prevent the further deterioration of law and order in St. Kitts and Nevis. CARICOM Must Intervene Now, to vindicate our constitutional right which is being infringed everyday, that the MONC is delayed. CARICOM Must Act in its own self interest, to restore its respect and credibility, as an institution that we can rely upon at all times, to defend the Charter Of Civil Society and democratic norms, values and principles.
It is clear that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis have had enough of the current illegitimate Douglas regime and that is why a clear majority of the elected representatives supports the Motion Of No Confidence before the National Assembly. We, the six members of the National Assembly who are a part of TEAM UNITY, are speaking on behalf of the majority of the people. The people of St. Kitts and Nevis have been long suffering and it is time for CARICOM to act preemptively. Now is not the time to ponder. Now is not the time to wait for mayhem and disorder.
The Heads of CARICOM know that what is happening in St. Kitts and Nevis, is clearly wrong and scandalous. What is happening in St. Kitts and Nevis is an aberration in our Parliamentary Democracy, where a majority of six elected and united sits on the Opposition benches while a minority of five sits on the government benches. Clearly the representativeness principle in our Democracy gives the majority the right to govern. The Heads of Government know that when a government like the Douglas Regime loses, “the support of the majority of the elected members of parliament, it has several options, namely (1) to resign and cause fresh General Elections to be held: (2) to face a vote of No Confidence in the Legislature in appropriate circumstances, or (3) to act in accordance with any other appropriate constitutional directive given by the Head of State (Governor General.) These are eternal, core principles of good governance – P.M. Gonsalves in his August 13, 2013 letter to Arnhim Eustace.
CARICOM Must Act Now, to right the obvious wrong. By acting now, they affirm their continuing faith, in the Charter of Civil Society, in particular those who espouse governance and political rights. By acting now, their good office can help to ensure an affirmation of the constitutional order in St. Kitts and Nevis. We believe the situation at home is egregious and it deserves the fullest consideration and firmest action, by the Heads to preserve the sanctity, and dignity and the rule of law and democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis.
We ask our CARICOM brothers and sisters to urge your leaders to do the right thing so that we can have peace and justice everywhere in all member states.
I thank you.