Is There Enough Time For Government To Change The Constituency Boundaries?

June 14, 2019 in National

Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas is questioning whether or not there is enough time for the government to change the existing constituency boundaries in St. Kitts and Nevis before the impending general elections.

“The constituency boundaries, although we’ve had several public statements from several government officials of the highest level of the Prime Minister himself and the Attorney General about revisiting the boundaries we have heard and seen nothing. We know that there seem to have been a legal challenge with regard to the boundaries which were pursued by the Labour administration back in 2015- the matter seems to be still in limbo. You ask of there is time, enough time, I don’t know.”

The question of which boundaries will be used in the next federal election has largely been met with ambiguous responses from the government, as they say the matter is still before the court.

The then Labour administration had the boundaries changed in a controversial move one month ahead of the February 2015 elections, only to have the then opposition Team Unity challenge it in court and the Privy Council overturn the changes just days before the actual election.

Over the years Minister responsible for Elections, Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr has stated that the government will pursue boundary changes, including an enumeration process. The government has advocated for boundary realignment.

Dr. Douglas says if the government does attempt to change the constituency boundaries, the process must be fair.

“As to whether there is still time to do it, well our elections constitutionally due – the first sitting of the parliament was in May 2015, on the anniversary of that date when the parliament sat five years ago then we’ll have the dissolution automatically, then the constitution speaks to 3 months after which you can call the general elections- by August of next year for the next elections to be called.

“If there is time? I do not know, but the matter is as it is and we in opposition await the outcome of these exercises. We will continue however to agitate that there must be fairness in the construction of any new boundaries here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”

The Opposition Leader said the Labour Party intends to be part of any consultation process to establish new boundaries, as should all citizens.

“The St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party has the right to ensure that it participates in this exercise apart from the two members who might have been appointed to the commission, the party would also like to get engaged in this debate; and generally the citizens must have the right to be entertained in having their views considered with regard to how they would see the new boundaries affecting their lives. The boundaries, whatever they are, would speak to representation of themselves as residents within a particular geographical boundary whether there is any quality, fairness and equity in representation in the parliament. So all these are matters I believe which are going to be critically important in the debate and discussion when it comes to new boundaries being created. We are hoping that enough time will be given for proper debate, discussion and consultation of these critical matters which are part of the sustaining of our democracy here in St. Kitts and Nevis. That is why we again insist that whoever are in charge of these particular proceedings that they will pursue them with a certain amount of fairness and justice.

“People will not accept any crap anymore in this country.”

In accordance with the constitution, a new 5-member Constituency Boundaries Commission was established after the 2015 elections comprising government nominees Cabinet Ministers Vance Amory and Ian patches Liburd; Opposition nominees MPs Konris Maynard and Patrice Nisbett, and chairman Calvin Pemberton.

According to information garnered by Freedom FM, the Commission has never met, and therefore has never produced a new constituency boundaries report.