Letter to PM Harris from Mins. Richards and Brantley

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Hon. Shawn K. Richards Deputy Prime Minister
Leader of People’s Action Movement Water Dept. Building
Needsmust Estate Basseterre

Hon. Mark Brantley Minister of Foreign Affairs
Government of St Kitts & Nevis Premier of Nevis & Leader of Concerned Citizens Movement Social Security Building Pinney’s Commercial Site, Nevis

16th April, 2022

Dr. The Honourable Timothy Harris Prime Minister
Government of St. Kitts & Nevis
& Leader of People’s Labour Party Government Headquarters Church Street
Basseterre

Mr. Prime Minister,

In recent months, our beloved country has witnessed unprecedented political challenges that could have been avoided, were it not for your departure from the core principles and promises that were established for the coalition government, comprised of the People’s Action Movement, Concerned Citizens Movement, and the People’s Labour Party

You would recall that when we agreed, as Political Parties, to form the alliance now known as Team Unity, we did so with a solemn and binding understanding that guided the mutual promises, agreements, and commitments. Simply put, we did so in a spirit of TRUST.

The ultimate mission of our union was to deliver social and economic programs that would adhere to a promise of Prosperity for All. The architecture of our political design was also birthed in a foundation of GOOD GOVERNANCE.

Our approach was to be a team of servant leaders, and not masters of the citizenry.

 

Our strategy then was to erase the scourges of victimization, discrimination, lack of government transparency, mismanagement of the economy, and corrupt practices. Jt was also our hope to end the poisoning of the rich traditions of democracy, on which our country was founded.

It is therefore an unfortunate reality that St. Kitts & Nevis today finds itself on a path which is the very antithesis of the spirit and intent of Team Unity.

Your governance, as Prime Minister, has boldly incorporated a systematic program designed to undermine your Cabinet colleagues, interfere in the operations of their portfolios, and oversee the inequitable distribution of government resources, mainly through the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Sustainable Development.

Your governance has also been characterized by your obvious support for agents that use various means to tarnish the good name and image of your own colleagues, with whom you sit in cabinet.

When we allied, we agreed that PAM would not field candidates in the constituencies that we agreed to have your candidates contest (Constituencies Number Three and Seven). In the 2020 election, PAM gave way to allowing one of your candidates to vie for the seat in Constituency Number Six.

Unfortunately, despite these accommodations, your party has been engaged, for several years, but heightened since the last election of 2020, in activities to undermine the PAM and CCM candidates in their constituencies.

Over the years, many of these issues and concerns were raised at various levels, including the cabinet, and during more private discussions. In the past, we have pursued our concerns using “quiet diplomacy” and keeping our disagreements private and confidential within the corridors of the government. But instead of a resolution, the situation has worsened.

Recognizing the worsening circumstances, we, the political leaders of PAM and CCM took a patriotic stand, and wrote to you on Monday 28 March, 2022 seeking urgent dialogue.

You were unable to accommodate a meeting notwithstanding the urgency until 9 days later on Wednesday April 6, 2022.

During that meeting, we outlined the critical issues and recommended the best way forward. However, you did not offer much either in terms of responses or commitments to introduce any of the changes suggested to improve the failing relationship. However, we, the undersigned, decided to be patient and measured in our approach.

As a consequence, we offered you a one-week period to consider the proposals and to return on Thursday, 14th April, 2022, to provide your responses and for us to take definitive actions.

Sadly again, you failed to adequately address the matters at hand and it seemed like the bridge of reconciliation was too wide for you to cross.

As it stands today, some two weeks after our first meeting to urgently address these critical matters of state, we still have no resolution and our country remains uneasy. There remains no semblance of clarity about the way forward, due to your tactics that some citizens describe as methods of strategic delay. We do not feel, however, that this is the time for such machinations.

The gulf between what is required to save the partnership and your personal preferences remains large and troubling.

We, Honourable Shawn Richards and Hon. Mark Brantley, have been most reasonable and patient, but the citizens of this great nation of ours are impatient with the lack of results, fuelled by your lack of urgency to resolve the impasse.

We are disheartened that there appears to be no willingness or appetite on your part to allow a meaningful platform that would allow us to construct a new system that would either repair the broken trust or pursue our good governance agenda.

This breach of trust and your departure from the pledge of good governance requires good men to act to prevent bad actors from destroying the fortunes of St. Kitts & Nevis and all of its citizens and residents. The time has come for us all to act in the spirit of our country’s motto: Country Above Self.

We have lost confidence in your leadership and you no longer command the support of the majority of your cabinet.

Therefore, in the interest of the stability of this country and the best interest of the preservation of good governance, we will accord you until Wednesday, 20th April, 2022, to respond definitively to the issues that we have raised in our meetings and others listed below:

  1. That there be an urgent return to the Good Governance Agenda, that includes-Term Limits, Electoral Reform, activation of the Integrity in Life legislation, Freedom of Information, Freedom of the Press, as well as legislation that governs the awarding of government contracts.
  2. To avoid the continued misuse and inequitable distribution of government resources, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Sustainable Development should be immediately re- assigned.
  3. Comprehensive overview of the true financial picture of the Government with monthly reports by the Financial Secretary to the Cabinet.
  4. Review and streamline the process for Budget Estimates to ensure that cabinet members and ministers are aware of the final figures to be considered for the Annual Budget. Ministers are mostly unaware of the final figures to be allocated to their ministries and only become aware when the Estimates are already finalized for debate in parliament.
  5. The management of the CBI Program should be restructured and be administered through the Ministry of Finance, with quarterly reports of revenue earned, the number of applications and the number of persons granted citizenship.
  6. There needs to be a clear policy that determines how social a5sistance is to be distributed to citizens and residents.
  7. The STEP Program should be managed and operated from within the Ministry of Labour with the appropriate budget allocations.
  8. The PAP program, which is budgeted under the Ministry of Social Development, should be managed and operated from within the Ministry of Social Development and not the Ministry of Sustainable Development. This program cannot continue to be operated by the Ministry of Sustainable Development when it is budgeted under the Ministry of Social Development.
  9. All Members of Parliament should have equal access to resources, (e,g., land, houses, PAP, STEP, etc.), to assist constituents.
  10. The Cabinet should be allowed to convene in the absence of the Prime Minister, with the Deputy acting as Chairman, or an assigned minister, when both are absent.
  11. All fake social media platforms that have been used to attack members of PAM and CCM, and those designed to attack PLP and other parties should be immediately and permanently deleted, Failure to do so should and would have serious implications for any settled agreement.
  12. It is our view that it is inappropriate for anyone representing the country as an ambassador, to be hosting or engaged in a radio or other media program, to attack members of the government that he or she serves, the opposition, or the citizens of the country that they represent. It would have been more beneficial to the country if such programs were used to educate and sensitize the citizens about the diplomatic achievements of St. Kitts & Nevis, and how we are affected by world affairs.
  13. Therefore, any such ambassadors, including our current Ambassador to the United Nations, should be immediately recalled and all such attacks should be immediately ended.
  14. Cease attempts, by the PLP, to establish footholds in constituencies, other than Numbers 3,6, and 7, and to bring an end to activities and support of agents working against the PAM and CCM.
  15. In the spirit of the Good Governance Agenda and the recent parliamentary efforts of the Team UNITY Government to introduce Term Limits legislation in the National Assembly, and in the spirit of your own recent public commitments at a church service, not to seek a third term, that you make an unequivocal public statement not to seek a third term as Prime Minister.
  16. Also, to keep to the spirit of the Team UNITY agreement, you make an unequivocal statement that the People’s Labour Party, (PLP), will not run candidates in any constituency where PAM and CCM are fielding candidates, (Constituencies 1,2,4,5,8,9,10,11). Nor would PLP support candidates, individuals, or parties contesting against PAM and CCM. PAM and CCM commit to the same not to run candidates in 3, 6 and 7 and not to support any candidate, individuals or parties contesting against PLP.
  17. Urgent accounting of CBI proceeds from the period of the SIDF until present day and to allocate and pay to Nevis its agreed pro rata population share of the net proceeds of CBI minus sums already paid to Nevis.
  18. If the above is agreed to, and in the spirit of political fairness, We, the undersigned would be willing to allow the continuation of your leadership, until December 31st, 2023, with the further understanding that you would keep to the commitment to facilitating a smooth transition to a new leader of the coalition thereafter.

 

We offer this compromise in good faith and in the best interest of continuity and stability and fairness in the process of delivering Prosperity for All.

Respectfully,

 

Hon. Shawn K. Richards Political Leader
People’s Action Movement,(PAM) Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM)

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