Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris, believes that the recent legislation to impose two term limits on anyone holding the position of Prime Minister in his country, may become a model which other countries in the Caribbean are going to explore.
The minister made that statement during an exclusive interview with Dominica News Online (DNO) on Thursday.
The proposed legislation, which was brought before the St. Kitts and Nevis Parliament this week, stipulates two five-year terms of office for the Prime Minister in that country.
Under the Tenure of Office of Prime Minister Bill, 2015 “A person who is appointed Prime Minister under the Constitution shall, subject to subsection (2) of this section, hold office for a term of five years”; and “A person shall not be appointed to hold office as Prime Minister for more than two terms as prescribed by this section.”
Dr. Harris said, “As more countries see how it works and understand the imperative for a new approach to governance, that more and more, this is going to become a model which other countries are going to explore. We have taken the first step by bringing it to the Parliament for the first reading, and we are hoping to take it forward in the New Year.”
He continued, “We think it is a good matter for St Kitts and Nevis and certainly the countries within the region who would want to follow pattern, we will encourage that.”
Furthermore, he said that his government believes that it was necessary to bring new talents to the fore to deal with issues of succession planning which have been difficult for political parties.
“Usually what happens is that you have a leader continuing office, usually by the time he is rejected by the people, there is no successor immediately that would come and that haemorrhages political parties and organization,” Dr. Harris explained. “We believe that we have a bright pool of young people who are emerging and if the succession issue is handled, we will always have a fine cadre of people.”
He added, “More than that it broadens the quality of democracy where leaders know that they are going to be held accountable, where leaders more early, begin to think about their legacy. In our case we are proposing two terms…”
Dr. Harris is of the view that a two terms limit in respect to the Presidency in Guyana has contributed “to the level and the quality of democracy.”
“We have seen in Cuba with the coming of Raúl Castro, he himself has determined and advanced that two terms was enough,” he stated. “We are happy in St Kitts, in fact we have gone to the people of St Kitts before the elections and indicated that this was what the democracy needed for enhancing it, for taking it to the new level and for bringing more people forward into service.”
He said the decision is an important disciplining mechanism, “it is important for succession planning, it is important to ensure that by and large in the democracy, people feel that they will have opportunities to change leadership periodically, bring new ones with whom they are more comfortable.”