BASSETERRE –– Former prime minister and leader of the Labour Party, Dr Denzil Douglas, says members of the opposition opted to boycott today’s opening of the new parliament.
“As a serious step towards demonstrating the disgust of the people of this country with the indecency, disrespect, and dishonour committed to date by this government, the parliamentary opposition has decided to abstain from participation in Parliament at its opening on Thursday, May 14,” Douglas said in a Press statement.
Douglas, who was on February 16 ousted from power after four terms in office, was to have been sworn in as opposition leader. Labour MPs Marcella Liburd, Konris Maynard, NRP MP Patrice Nisbett and nominated opposition senator Nigel Carty were to have taken oaths of Parliament as well.
The former prime minister described the absence of Governor General Sir Edmund Lawrence from the parliamentary proceedings as the height of disrespect. He said Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris and the attorney general had “manipulated the circumstances” which led to Sir Edmund’s absence.
“It is despicable what Dr Harris and Attorney General Byron have done to interfere with the tradition of the sitting governor general being present to deliver the throne speech at the first sitting of a new term of Parliament. This intimidation and victimization of our governor general must stop, and we call on the members of government to show respect for the office of the governor general,” he said.
The prime minister told the public on Tuesday that the governor general had advised he would wish to take leave from May 12 to 17 and he had allowed the leave.
Douglas said the closure of the electoral office since February was also a troubling matter to the opposition as the public was being denied the essential right to register to vote.
“The SKNLP declares this as highly undemocratic and signals its intention to pursue this matter to its fullest extent on behalf of the people of St Kitts and Nevis,” he said.
The SKNLP leader also blasted the government for alleged rampant victimization of dozens of ordinary citizens over the last three months, ranging from top level civil servants such as permanent secretaries and ambassadors down to persons who were working for near minimum wage.
“Civil servants are being sacked left, right and centre based solely upon the government’s belief as to which political party they have supported. This is wrong. This is absolutely wrong. This is horrendous and it must be brought to an end.”
Douglas, when in government, had criticized the then opposition members when they boycotted several sittings of parliament over the abeyance motion of no confidence abeyance. He accused them of only coming to parliament to collect a salary and not serving the people who had elected them.