Team Unity it is!
Douglas loses on his fifth poll
Voters in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country denied Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas the opportunity of becoming the first regional leader to win five consecutive general elections; and instead voted in Team Unity, an amalgam of three opposition parties, to form the next government in St Kitts-Nevis.
The process was, however, mired in controversy when Supervisor of Elections Wingrove George suspended the public announcement of the poll results early this morning after declaring only two seats.
But in a show of defiance, Team Unity head Dr Timothy Harris and party supporters staged early celebrations as the leader claimed the opposition had won seven of the 11 seats at stake in yesterday’s poll.
Harris was vindicated late this evening after George broke his silence, naming Team Unity the winners of the 2015 general election in St Kitts-Nevis.
But while George declared Team Unity had indeed won seven of the 11 seats contested, he gave no figures, saying they would be provided later.
The other four seats were won by the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) that had formed an accommodation to contest the polls.
In his brief radio broadcast, George defended the decision not to make public earlier the election result, apologizing to the nation “for the length of time this might have taken, but we have to remember that sometimes to be sure we have to take our time”.
Said he: “The writ issued by the governor general to the returning officers –– they have up until the 18th [of February] to give me the final decision. So even though it might be long, it is not unlawful; it is not illegal; and they would not go wrong in taking their time to do what they have to do.
“Like I said this morning, there were certain processes to go through. We had challenges, we had reviews; and it would have been very unprofessional of me, as supervisor of elections to go and make announcements while the whole process will be revisited. Because if anything was to take a different turn I would have had to be updating and retracting statements”.
George said he believed making the statement now “was the opportune time and the relevant time to say what is the final decision. And for those who might be suggesting that I am using delaying tactics’ there is nothing to delay about the fact.
“It is just to make sure the information reported is really the fact and to do it hastily would and could ensure you are not reporting the facts,” he said.
Several regional governments had called on George to release the facts.
Team Unity comprises the main opposition People’s Action Movement (AM), the recently formed People’s Labour Party (PLP) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM).
Apart from Harris, the other Team Unity successful candidates were Premier Vance Amory of Nevis, Shawn Richards, Eugene Hamilton, Ian Patrick Liburd, Lindsay Grant and Mark Brantley, who served as opposition leader in the last Parliament.
The SKNLP/NRP winners included Prime Minister Douglas, former health minister Marcella Liburd, Conrad Maynard and Patrice Nisbett.
Among the casualties of the election were Deputy Prime Minister Dr Asim Martin, who lost to newcomer Liburd and sports minister Glen Phillip, who lost to Grant, the former PAM leader.
Former deputy prime minister Sam Condor, the deputy leader of the PLP, was also defeated in the election, losing to Maynard.
The 15-member National Assembly is made up of 11 elected members and four others, two of whom are government senators and one opposition senator. The attorney general is the ex-offico member of the legislative body.
The St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) had entered the election in an accommodation with the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), telling the public it was the best party suited to continue the socioeconomic development of the twin-island federation.
But Team Unity had urged supporters it was time for there to be Prosperity For All, and accused the outgoing administration of nepotism, corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
The party had campaigned on the theme Better Days Are Coming, and had urged its “family” of voters to ensure they removed the incumbent from office.
As he addressed jubilant supporters from the balcony of the party’s headquarters, Timothy told them the “victory belonged to you the people”.
“I promise we will treat everybody fairly and equally, black or white, male or female,” he said, adding: “My family this is your victory . . . . This is your moment of rejoicing.
“What a wonderful sight it is to see the thousands of you! . . . . I want to thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Late this evening, outgoing Prime Minister Douglas congratulated Team Unity on its election victory and thanked the people of St Kitts/Nevis for giving him an opportunity to serve them over the past 20 years.
“This has been a long and hard election campaign. And what the impassioned, but peaceful –– always peaceful –– public meetings, rallies, and jousting said to the world, time and again, was that ours is a vibrant and mature democracy, and that Kittitians and Nevisians are a politically mature and responsible people.
“I shall forever cherish having been given the opportunity to lead the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis. And for this most precious opportunities, I once again thank you,” Douglas said.