Current PM: Former prime minister dealing with ‘divided loyalties’
By Valencia Grant, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Basseterre. St. Kitts – Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris said Oct. 25 that the government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuance of a diplomatic Dominican passport to the Leader of the Opposition.
Prime Minister Harris said the investigation found that the government of Dominica issued a diplomatic passport to St. Kitts and Nevis’ Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, on July 30, 2015. The diplomatic passport, which has an expiry date of July 29, 2020, was issued a mere five and a half months after the Denzil Douglas-led St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party suffered a stunning defeat in the Feb. 16, 2015, general elections, winning only three out of the eight seats that were contested in St. Kitts.
Harris pointed out the irony of this situation during his press conference Wednesday, while noting that “the mouthpiece of the Douglas Party, the Labour spokesman, challenged the eligibility of the Hon. Shawn Richards and the Hon. Lindsay Grant to become members of Parliament. The Hon. Eugene Hamilton was taken to court by the Douglas regime over holding not an American passport, but a green card. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to satisfy his Machiavellian passion.”
The prime minister further stated that “it is tragic that the said ‘ten man in one’ Dr. Denzil Douglas, who led the fight against others, could now have entangled himself in issues of eligibility to serve in the people’s parliament.”
Prime Minister Harris said the significance of the situation should not be lost on the electorate. “The qualifications required of those elected to sit in the National Assembly are constitutionally entrenched [in Section 28 of the Constitution] and intended to prevent any actual or perceived conflicts of interest arising from divided loyalties,” Harris said, also noting that “this constitutionally entrenched qualification has been further codified by the National Assembly Elections Act, the Act of Parliament passed pursuant to the constitutional grant of power to Parliament.”
Harris continued: “In 2009, Dr. Denzil Douglas had twice amended the National Assembly Elections Act to prevent the nomination and election to Parliament of persons in allegiance, obedience and adherence to another state. So serious did Dr. Douglas pursue the matter that he passed the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Act 2009. To ensure he achieved his aim, he further clarified and refined it by Act No. 17 of 2009, [titled] National Assembly Elections (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2009.”
Harris said the conflict of interest is clear with respect to the finding that the former prime minister has a diplomatic passport from Dominica. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other,” Harris said, quoting part of Matthew 6:24 in the Bible.