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St. Kitts & Nevis: Protesting the Prime Minister

It's a twist rarely seen in Caribbean politics where party loyalties are fierce, but political tensions are high in St. Kitts and Nevis following the defection of two senior ministers from Prime Minister Denzil Douglas‘ ruling St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.

The move has placed the government in a minority position in the country's National Assembly, and the Prime Minister has not summoned Parliament in more than six months, presumably to avoid facing a vote of “No Confidence”. Meanwhile, the two ministers, Timothy Harris and Sam Condor, have formed a political party of their own, the People's Labour Party.

Late last week, the opposition People's Action Movement and the PLP led a protest march through the streets of the capital in an attempt to force the Prime Minister to either call an election or to step aside to allow the formation of a unity government.

P.A.M Chairwoman Cyndie Demming addresses the crowd

P.A.M Chairwoman Cyndie Demming addresses the crowd

Permission for the march was initially withheld by the police and was finally granted hours before the event. Prior to the march, there was a smaller protest, but quite curiously, only one blog – Barbados-based at that – took note. It reported on a press conference held before permission for the march was granted, in which the opposition leader laid out his justification for the march and for continued protests against the government:

The two elected members of PAM and partners in the CCM [Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement] and PLP have also written twice to the Governor General, confirming that all six of us, who make up the majority of the elected members of parliament, no longer have any confidence in the government and Dr. Douglas as Prime Minister. We have stated to the Governor General twice in letter that when the Motion of No Confidence is called, we will all vote in favour of it. We have also written twice to the Speaker of the National Assembly, echoing the same message that we communicated to the Governor General, and after six months, not one of these gentlemen has taken the appropriate constitutional action.

Marching through Basseterre

Marching through Basseterre

There were reactions to the march on the Facebook pages of some of the parties involved. On the People's Action Movement's page, Jacqueline Elliot felt that the march was not enough:

PAM and PLP the time has come to take our country back[…]instead of marching, everyone go down Church Street and do not move[…]you stay right there[…]close down St. Kitts. Marching last[s] a couple of hours[…]you need to stay down Church Street like they are doing [in] Egypt.

Caribbean Queen, on the contrary, thought the march could be the start of something big:

SK people is begging for a change, something they can look up to, call their own, something they hold on to and say, I made this happen, something they can [tell] their children that they were a part of, a story to remember, let it begin now.

"No Confidence in P.M. Denzil Douglas"

“No Confidence in P.M. Denzil Douglas”

Rita Jarvis Pondt echoed these sentiments:

When fox can get the grapes he say dem sour. Lot more surprises coming. I'm not in the kitchen, but I can feel the heat. I can see people are fed up of all the lies and games that are being played everyday. I am so in support of the unity march yesterday and was very happy that it was successful. This is a sign that people are not going to tolerate anymore cr[a]p.

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Gathering at Independence Square in Basseterre

Other than Facebook, YouTube appeared to be the new media forum of choice: several videos of the street protests were uploaded, most of them garnering an average of a few hundred views.  
         

The photos in this post are by Macclure Taylor, used with permission, courtesy the People's Action Movement Facebook page.

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