Power Over People? SKN Opposition Leader expects Kittitians to ignore Novel Coronavirus Pandemic and vote
Pointing that the coronavirus – COVID19 – introduced a new norm in St Kitts and Nevis, Political Leader of the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), The Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas said Tuesday that if people can line up to shop at supermarkets and pharmacies and do business at banks, they can also line up to vote in the next general elections while observing social distancing.
Dr Douglas in answer to a question, is seen as a response to a recent statement on Monday by Attorney General and Minister responsible for elections, Sen the Hon Vincent Byron Jr, that the COVID-19 crisis should place general elections which must be held in St Kitts and Nevis by August 14, 2020 “on the back burner.”
“*Every crisis has its unique and distinctive features and this pandemic calls for social distancing, the requirements of which do not prove an insurmountable obstacle that cannot be easily and effectively managed in an election scenario,” Dr Douglas told listeners.
“Let us not fool ourselves. And so we have to examine carefully what we are being told by those who seem to have some kind of sinister agenda. Let us be very careful. The authorities have more than enough time to prepare,” said Dr Douglas. He is of the firm view that in light of the ‘new norm,’ the conduct of the next general elections “will have to be different.”
He noted that although the life of the current National Assembly ends on 14th May 2020 and time is short, “we are going to have our elections conducted in the next few weeks under conditions of social and physical distancing.”
“We may even have to look at how we are going to vote. It may take one, two or three days. This is a situation where the rule of law and good governance are of critical importance. This is a paradigm shift that would have taken place as a result of the pandemic,” said Dr Douglas.
In a direct reference to prime minister Dr Timothy Harris’ assertion that St Kitts and Nevis is at war in the fight against COVID-19, Dr Douglas said: “We are not in any war. There are some people who would want you to believe that we are at war, but we are not at war in this country. We are still a blessed and peaceful country, but the realities are that certain changes would have to be made because of COVID-19 and its lingering effects that will last a prolonged period of time.”
The former prime minister also suggested that persons who are employed in essential services such as police officers, defense force soldiers, nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers generally, will need to vote early if they are to carry out their duties while exercising their rights as citizens to vote.
“These are some of the things we would have to consider. We will need more agents, more poll clerks, etc. to manage the (election) exercise,” Dr Douglas said.