BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, March 13, 2020 (SKNIS)—Governor General of St. Kitts and Nevis, His Excellency Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton, GCMG, CVO, QC, JP, LL. D, is expected to appoint a Leader of the Opposition in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly in the wake of the landmark ruling of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the Court of Appeal on March 12, 2020, that Dr. Denzil Douglas vacate his seat with immediate effect in the august body for being in contravention of Section 28 (1a) of the Constitution of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
This announcement was made to the Nation by Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Vincent Byron on March 12th following the judgement handed down by Chief Justice, the Hon. Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE.
The Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis requires that there shall be a Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly who shall be appointed by the Governor General.
“With the ruling and as Parliament is likely to meet over the next few weeks, the Governor General shall appoint an elected representative to the position of Leader of Opposition who appears likely to command the support of a majority of the representatives who do not support the Government. The power to do so shall be exercised by His Excellency the Governor General in his own deliberate judgement,” the Attorney said.
The elected Members of Parliament for the Opposition are the Hon. Konris Maynard, the Hon. Marcella Liburd and the Hon. Patrice Nisbett, one of whom is likely to be appointed as Leader of the Opposition.
Attorney General Byron also said that Dr. Douglas’s disqualification from the National Assembly dates back to 30th July 2015, when he obtained a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica No: 0000462 with expiration date July 29, 2020, which recorded him as being a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica. “This is borne out by a certificate of exhibits thus filed among the papers at the court,” he said.
The learned Attorney General further noted that, “It has to be emphasized that the effect of the decision by the Court of Appeal is that every operation, every activity, every interview and every speech of Dr. Douglas as a member of electoral constituency known as Constituency Six was carried out by him since 30th July, 2015 while he was disqualified from Parliament, having disqualified himself by virtue of his own act.”
Section 28 (1) of the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis and Section Six (6) of the National Assemblies Act both provide that “a person shall not be qualified to be elected or appointed as a member if he is by virtue of his own act under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state”, said the Attorney General.
Dr. Denzil Douglas admitted in a sworn affidavit filed in the High Court Registry on February 21, 2018, that he filled out an application form and was issued with a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which he has used to travel at least 10 times.
Additionally, Section 26 (5) of the Constitution states: “Any person who sits or votes in the National Assembly knowing or having reasonable grounds for knowing that he is not entitled to do so shall be guilty of a criminal offence and liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or such other sum as may be prescribed by Parliament, for each day on which he so sits or votes in the Assembly.”
When then Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, presented on the National Assembly Election Amendment Bill, 2009, he had this to say:
“The Government, Mr. Speaker, is totally supportive of our people who seek and who appreciate and who enjoy dual citizenship with regard to citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis and citizenship of another country…the time for fooling around is over. This is a serious country with serious business. The work of the people must be done and today we are in Parliament to do the work of the people. Nobody is going to stop us from doing what we have to do as a government and that is why we are here; we are here to make sure that those who want to be elected must be citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis only.”
As a result of this, the Honourable Shawn Richards, Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Five (Sandy Point) since 2005, and Lindsay Grant, who was a candidate in the General Elections of 2010 and now Minister of Government, had to renounce their citizenship of the United States of America in 2009 in order to be eligible both as candidates for the People’s Action Movement in the 2010 General Elections.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the Court of Appeal overturned the Judgement of Resident High Court Judge His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward Q.C, on February 20, 2019, which concluded that Dr. Douglas was not under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state for holding a Dominican diplomatic passport.