Opposition Leader Douglas says PM Harris “incapable of being truthful;” Cabinet ministers say draft legislation will impose residency on overseas nationals

Basseterre, St Kitts, June 12, 2019 – St Kitts and Nevis’ Leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas has described Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris as “being incapable of being truthful and deception has become part of his own personality and character.”
Responding to a recent statement in a live interview in Maryland, USA, in the presence of scores of Kittitians and Nevisians, Dr Harris denied that the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is aimed at preventing nationals of St Kitts and Nevis who reside overseas from exercising their constitutional rights to register and vote in Federal Government or Nevis Island Administration elections.
“..I just want to bring an end to the notion that this is an effort by Team Unity to disqualify overseas (based) voters from voting,” Dr Harris told Everton “Obi” Elliott in the interview which is still on his FaceBook page.
But Dr. Douglas, the political leader of the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) insists that the bill, which has been given its first reading of the parliament by the Harris-led Team Unity Government calls for a six month residency before a person can become qualified to be registered.
“It has nothing to do with St Paul’s people. It has nothing to do with people who are voting here, there and everywhere (as claimed by Dr Harris). It is very specific. It speaks to addressing the fact that the Team Unity Government of the day is uncomfortable with the number of our nationals who live overseas and who are properly, legally and duly registered to vote. and who have been on the voter register for years,” responded Dr Douglas during his weekly radio call in programme “Ask the Leader.”
Despite of Dr Harris’ denial that the amendments are aimed at preventing nationals who live overseas from voting Labour Party Member of Parliament for St Christopher 3 (West Basseterre), Hon Konris Maynard and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Premier of Nevis, Hon Mark Brantley have also expressed concern.
Dr Harris’ Attorney General, Sen the Hon Vincent Byron and Chairman of the co-ruling People’s Action Movement (PAM), Jonel Powell are on record of supporting a residency requirement as laid out in the draft legislation.
Premier Brantley at his press conference on April 30, 2019 said he expects the Federal government to have “robust discussions” both locally and abroad about the amendments being made to the legislation with regards to the proposed residency requirement for overseas voters.
Brantley noted that St Kitts and Nevis “have had a phenomenon of overseas voters for a very long time..”
Labour MP Maynard noted recently that the present law allows for registration on two bases if you are otherwise qualified to register.
“On the basis of where you live, if you live in the country; on the basis of your domicile, if you live abroad. Your domicile is your legal home in St. Kitts and Nevis, if you reside abroad. So the simple truth is that, in relation to a person living in St Kitts and Nevis, you always were required to register where you live. Plain and simple. Therefore, it was never necessary for any law to be passed to say that, because that law already exists,” Maynard explained.
“The amendments that were brought to Parliament are designed to stop the overseas vote, period,” said Maynard, who in digging deeper into the proposed amendments pointed out that “the new bill seeks to remove the definition of ‘domicile’ which means that you could no longer register according to your domicile. That is, you cannot register unless you are truly resident in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Accusing Prime Minister Harris of doing serious damage to the credibility of the Office of the Prime Minister and to St Kitts and Nevis when he lies to citizens so blatantly, Maynard also pointed out that the new bill seeks to remove all of Section 37 (b) of the present law.
“That section deals with the registration of overseas voters. How can you remove an entire section that creates a basis for the registration of overseas voters (persons who live overseas) and claim that the law is not meant to disenfranchise the overseas voters? This level of deception is truly extraordinary; it is criminal, in fact,” the first-term parliamentarian told reporters and the nation.
Harris’ Attorney General, Sen the Hon Vincent Byron Jr is on record of stating: ““We have to go back to the drawing board and determine if someone can fly in on a Sunday night, vote on a Monday and fly out on the Monday night. We need to have a national dialogue on that issue.”
“I want to correct everyone, we’re talking about taking away the rights from overseas voters, we’re not taking away the right or the legislation does not take away the right to vote from anybody. It simply says if you want to register to vote in a particular constituency you must be living or resident in that constituency for six months prior to registration. And it begs the question how can you be a constituent in a particular constituency when you don’t live there?” said Jonell Powell, chairman of the Peoples Action Movement (PAM), a partner in the three-party federal coalition.

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