Basseterre, St Kitts, November 26, 2019 – Several Cabinet ministers and coalition partners boycotted Saturday’s service at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Molineux , held to commemorate 26 years of parliamentary representation by Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris.
“The honourable prime minister was joined at this morning’s worship by his Cabinet colleagues the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd and the Honourable Eugene Hamilton,” said a news release dated November 23, 2019 from the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Cabinet ministers and members absent were Hon Lindsay Grant, Hon Shawn Richards, Hon Vance Amory, Hon Mark Brantley, Hon Vincent Byron, Hon Wendy Phipps and Cabinet Secretary, Josephine Huggins.
Also absent were top officials of the Peoples Action Movement (PAM) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) – the other two parties in the Timothy Harris-led coalition.
Conspicuously absent also were PAM chairman, Ambassador Jonel Powell as well as ambassadors Michael Powell, Sidney Osborne, Dame Constance Mitcham and executive members of the CCM.
Elected on the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party ticket, headed by the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas in 1993, Dr Harris was fired from the Cabinet of which he was a member for 18 years in 2013, because of his opposition to The Vesting of Certain Lands Act – the land for debt swap – which since becoming prime minister in 2015, he has not kept his promise to repeal it.
“A Team Unity Government will Repeal The Vesting of Certain Lands Act,” the manifesto said on page 17.
Dr Harris, who was chairman of the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) was also booted from the party by delegates.
Dr Harris had also walked into the Office of the Prime Minister demanding that Dr Douglas “resigns immediately and turn over the prime ministership” to him.
Since taking office in mid-February 2015, the government has become embroiled in several scandals.
These include the Stem Cell and unethical herpes scandals, the Hurricane Roof Repair scandal, the Peter Virdee scandal in London, the Poverty Alleviation Programme scandal, the Ren Biao Chinese fugitive scandal, the Lanny Davis scandal and the PLP EC$10 million campaign funds scandal.
Dr Harris has refused to give permission to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make public the Article IV Consultation on the St Kitts and Nevis economy for 2018 and in September barred another IMF Mission from coming to St Kitts and Nevis to conduct an evaluation of the local economy.
His five-year tenure as prime minister has also been rocked by widespread deception, nepotism and allegations of corruption and resignations.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Franklin Brand tendered his resignation on April 28, 2016, short of completing one year in office to become eligible for a pension.
Mr. Brand’s resignation came after months of reports that the Timothy Harris-led Government “has been pressuring him to stifle the democratic rights of the opposition parliamentarians and throw them out of the lawmaking body.”
Dr Harris’ first Press Secretary Clecton Phillip also parted ways with him at the end of February 2016, exactly one year on the job.
There were also two resignations from the state-owned ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). Board chairman, Mr. Douglas Wattley, at the time chairman of Prime Minister Harris’ Peoples Labour Party (PLP) . Deputy chairperson and later acting chairperson, Mrs. Avenice Thompson also resigned.
Family and PLP officers control the St Kitts-Nevis National Bank, the St Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, the Development Bank of St Kitts and Nevis, the Magistrate and High Courts and are directors on several government boards and institutions including the Citizenship By Investment Unit, Government Printery and the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College.
Family members are also engaged in heavy equipment operation, construction, landscaping, car rentals, security, icemaking, transportation and taxi services.
At the PLP level, Dr Harris purged several executive officers and co-founders by not inviting them to the inaugural PLP Convention held in the Tabernacle, his home village.
The axe came down on PLP’s first Deputy Political Leader, His Excellency Sam Condor, who was replaced by Sen the Hon Akilah Nisbett, Harris’ niece in law and now senator and deputy speaker in the National Assembly and Condor’s replacement as the PLP candidate for St Christopher 3 (West Basseterre). Akilah is the wife of National Bank Chairman, Alexis Nisbett. Dr Harris is the lone founding member on the PLP executive.
PLP Chairman, Wattley, deputy political leader Condor, Secretary, Clecton Phillip and Treasurer, Venelma Hanley, were not invited to the PLP convention and were replaced by Harris’ family members and close associates.
Several founding and executive members were booted from the PLP for asking Dr Harris to give an account for campaign funds. It is over three years since Dr Harris promised to call a press conference of his PLP to deal with the matter.