Harris alleges dual citizenship; Douglas denies claim

Prime Minister Dr.Timothy Harris (left) and Former Prime Minister, Leader of the opposition in the St.Kitts Nevis Parliament and Dominican Diplomat, Dr Denzil Douglas (right)

The Prime Minister Hon. Timothy Harris has unveiled a set of allegations that opposition leader The Hon. Denzil Douglas holds dual citizenship as evidenced by his having Dominica diplomatic passport.

Harris, speaking at a press conference this week, questioned Douglas’ loyalty to the federation after it was alleged that the current opposition leader is in fact an agent for another country.

“Dr. Denzil Douglas is a citizen of another country other than St. Kitts and Nevis,” Harris said. “Douglas promotes the CBI of another country and undermines that of St. Kitts and Nevis. Thirdly, Douglas strangely holds a diplomatic passport of another country, and I challenge Dr. Douglas now to confirm the truth or otherwise of the foregoing information to which I have been made privy to.”

The allegations come in response to Douglas’ constant attacks on a new temporary option in the federation’s own Citizenship by Investment Program which allows potential citizens to invest in a hurricane relief fund at a discounted price.

Adding fuel to the fire of the charges is the fact that Douglas himself established the law making it illegal for those holding dual citizenships to become elected officials in 2009, known as the election amendment act #16.

“It wasn’t a simple measure of policy, Harris said. “It was something that he felt so deeply about that he was moved to bring a piece of legislation, that I supported, that those who are coming before the people of the country for service must come unencumbered.”

That bill outlines the following regulations for service:

  1. A candidate for nomination who gives false information relating to his or her citizenship contrary to the provisions of Section 51(5A) commits an offence.
  2. A voter who nominates a candidate for election and gives false information relating to the citizenship of that candidate commits an offence.
  3. A candidate who commits an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding thirty thousand dollars or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both such fine and imprisonment;
  4. And shall not be qualified for a period not exceeding five years following his or her conviction or, as the case may be, following a report of the court hearing an election petition as may be so prescribed, to be elected or appointed as a member of Parliament.

Harris called for an investigation to take place concerning whether holding a diplomatic passport undermines the federal interest of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“When a man holds a diplomatic passport of another country and goes into regional meetings, whose interests is being put forward?” Harris said. “My government will conduct an investigation in this matter and report back to the people.

Douglas spoke to the Observer on Wednesday, Oct. 4th, to vehemently deny the allegation that he currently, or has ever held dual citizenship. Douglas views the investigation as an attempted distraction by the Team Unity government to get people’s views away from the CBI bill that was detailed in the same press conference.

I have been a member of parliament since 1989, I have served as prime minister for nearly 20 years and I’m currently the leader of the SKN labor party and the leader of the parliamentary opposition,” Douglas said. “I hold citizenship to no other country other than my own St. Kitts and Nevis. I’ve never held for another country, and I do not intend in the future to do so. I do not hold dual citizenship.”

Douglas rebuked by accusing Harris of lying and misleading the citizens, while not answering questions about the countries own Citizenship by Investment program.

The key factor in this argument seems to be the difference between holding a diplomatic passport to another country and being deemed a citizen of another country. Douglas did not comment on whether or not he holds a diplomatic passport, but did note that three countries had offered him the passport.

“I have been informed and advised legally that holding a diplomatic passport does not in any way provide you with citizenship, especially when you have never applied for citizenship of that country.” Douglas said.

The bill passed in 2009 provided penalties for dual citizenship, but does not include any information on the legality of an elected official holding a diplomatic passport. At this time, it has been alleged that Douglas holds a diplomatic passport to Dominica.

Harris expressed this at his press conference, and took the allegations a step further by arguing that Douglas is a citizen of another country. Douglas retaliated by denying second citizenship and saying the issue is a “red herring.” No hard evidence has been brought to the public’s attention at this time regarding the above proclamations and further information will be added as soon as it is made available.