Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas during the emergency sitting of the National Assembly on Monday 28th June 2021 (Video screenshot)

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Thursday 1st June 2021)- While the government side of Parliament on Monday 28th June 2021 saw the ‘ayes’ having it for a six-month extension of the State of Emergency (SOE), such came about in the aftermath of a lengthy debate during which the opposition side rejected comments by mover of the resolution Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Timothy Harris “attacking” the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) amid the COVID-19 pandemic management.

Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas, at the emergency sitting of that day’s session said it was a “vicious attack”.

“It is very unfortunate that this is how we are starting this debate. With the Prime Minister making a presentation attacking the Labour Party. So it’s the Labour Party that is responsible for all that has gone wrong here in the management of this pandemic? Because that is what he says! He said we have politicized the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not managing the pandemic. He is responsible for the management of the pandemic here in St.Kitts and Nevis. We here in this parliament can lend our support, we are not leading it, and he has failed in the leadership of this pandemic here in our country going on for almost 18 months.”
Dr. Douglas, a medical physician, pointed out that it was important to respond immediately in that particular way so as to publicly indicate that the SKNLP is not going to “accept any blame.”

“The St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has been out there from the very beginning… They [the government] politicised the management, only selecting those whom they want to select. Others have come forward [saying] we want to be helpful as stakeholders [and the government responding] ‘No we don’t need you!’ and now he’s saying (PM Harris) we are politicising the management of the pandemic of all things which is crazy and ridiculous. The time for the game of blaming is over. People are dying, people are dying, and all he could do is blame someone else for the three deaths that we’ve had here in this country over this,” he remarked.

PM Harris, during his presentation responded to by Dr. Douglas, claimed the SKNLP “saw a game to be played for political advantage” regarding the pandemic.
The National Security Minister politically claimed that 98% of doctors in the country are vaccinated except for those who sit in the SKNLP.

“I said most doctors, 98% of them. Really, the only doctors in the country who do not support community immunization programme sit in the Labour Party…They (SKNLP) have made no serious effort to encourage people to be vaccinated…”

According to Dr. Douglas: “The Prime Minister in his usual style, who does not accept blame for anything launched a vicious attack a moment ago on the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party of which am the leader at this time. Here we are in the parliament of this country  where we’re hearing in one breath  that there should be a common purpose ; a togetherness in fighting this particular pandemic  but here is the Prime Minister- the member for Number Seven  almost within 10 minutes  of his presentation  is launching  an attack on the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.”  

“He has said a number of things a moment ago that we have no serious support coming from this side; that the only doctors in the country who have not supported that  vaccine are on the opposite side and support the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party,” he added.

According to Dr. Douglas: “I didn’t intend to start like this. I intended to come here, reason why we need the State Of Emergency, why it couldn’t be called before now, reasoning on what is a reasonable duration period for this State Of Emergency but here am I basically responding to the unfortunate statement of the Prime Minister who is the Minister of National Security; the Minister responsible for NEMA [National Emergency Management Agency], the Minister responsible for NEOC [National  Emergency Operations Centre],HEOC [Health Emergency Operation Centre] for COVID-19…”

The three Opposition members Dr. Douglas along with Parliamentary Representative for Constituency One (East Basseterre) Dr. Geoffrey Hanley and Senator Dr. Joyelle Clarke walked out during the vote for the passing of the resolution.

A media statement partly indicated that: “In the end members on the opposition benches felt that they could not support a State of Emergency that was too little too late and for such a long period of time, which could mean lockdowns and restrictions and further human suffering until year end.”