BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 7th August 2020) – The opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) is pointing to a recent article in an international newspaper- the New York Times- which claims the opposition’s efforts were hampered during the campaign for the June 2020 elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Appearing on Freedom FM’s weekly ‘Issues’ programme aired on Friday 31st August 2020, Party Chairman Dr. Terrance Drew highlighted the news while giving an update as to why the six petitions recently filed at the high court were withdrawn by the SKNLP, labelling such as being “unfortunate” caused by a legal technical issues and not the quality of the case itself.
“Two weeks ago, we had the first hearing and that was put off because there was some filing with respect to technical issues, legal technical issues surrounding the filing of the case… had nothing all to do with the merit of the case.”
Dr. Drew continued: “And so those legal technical issues…were the grounds on which the cases had to be withdrawn which of course we would admit is unfortunate because I think it is important for the people of St.Kitts- and not just the people of St.Kitts… but the people of St. Kitts and the region and the people of the world because we just saw an article coming from the New York Times where they referenced St. Kitts and Nevis elections and said basically that democracy is under threat in St. Kitts and Nevis because the COVID-19 situation would have been used to shut down the opposition’s campaign so that the coalition in power would have had an unfair advantage… so that is why I say internationally people are interested in really understanding what really took place in St.Kitts and Nevis and so those concerns are beyond the control of the petitioners and has nothing to do with the merit of the case.”
A press release issued by the SKNLP-dated 31st July-said the New York Times article entitled “Latin America is Facing a Decline in Democracy under the Pandemic” published on July 29, 2020, cited the 24-hour lockdown as one of the main impediments hampering opposition efforts to connect with voters while candidates on the government side were allowed to do so.
“The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party will not rest until the will of the people prevails in our blessed land which is the only source of authority of our nation’s leaders. We wish to express our thanks to all of our supporters, not just our Labour supporters, but all who have stood up and spoken out in defense of Truth and Justice. Thank you for standing on the side of principles, integrity in public office, good governance and justice,” the media release included.
Meanwhile, during the Freedom FM’s session, Dr. Drew said he is waiting to hear from the NGOs (non-governmental organisations) of St.Kitts-Nevis who are accustomed to speak in public when it comes to good governance issues.
“…those who have been speaking about fairness, integrity in life, transparency and good governance issues. I’m waiting to hear their voices in a strong way on these issues. It is sad- in my estimation- that the New York Times had to be the neutral voice to say to the world that what took place in St.Kitts and Nevis on June 5th was a travesty to be ideals of democracy. It is said that I could not hear from the Christian Council on this one nor the Evangelical Association nor the Bar Association nor the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and all those other voices who we were accustomed to speak in public when it comes to good governance issues and what is democracy and what is fairness and so I want to reiterate to the people of St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party’s issue; it is way beyond that. This is an issue of democracy and where we are as a people and the ideals that we hold up as a people.”
On the point of the conduct of the elections amidst the pandemic as filed in the SKNLP petitions, Dr. Drew highlighted and reemphasized the party’s view that the state of emergency was used to create an unfair advantage.
“Of course we would have seen that an election took place under a state of emergency. We know that the state of emergency was used to give the government an unfair advantage in the election. We know that we already have legal framework and so forth; acts that deal specifically with pandemics and we were of the view that that which was already on the books could have been used to manage this pandemic.”
“However, the state of emergency was used as a pretext really to protect us all when really we understand that it was really to suppress the opposition’s campaign which in any county where the opposition is suppressed or oppressed- whichever term you want to use- where the opposition would not have had the opportunity to meet the electorate in the way that the ruling party or coalition that puts the ruling coalition at an unfair advantage and that erodes democracy at its foundation. That is what took place and so we decry that and we want the people of St.Kitts and Nevis to know that the reason why this is being referenced by the New York Times, it is because it is a serious travesty of the course of democracy here in St.Kitts and Nevis,” the SKNLP Chairman added.
The article found on www.nytimes.com written by Anatoly Kurmanaev with location CARACAS, Venezuela.