BASSETERRE, St Kitts – A statement by attorney-general Vincent Byron Jr that general elections constitutionally due by August 2020 be placed on the back burner has triggered a firestorm with persons expressing the view that the State of Emergency will be extended to delay the poll and the entrenchment of a Timothy Harris-led totalitarian regime.
The last general elections were held on February 16, 2015. Because the first sitting of the National Assembly was held on May 14, 2015, the parliament automatically dissolves on May 14, 2020, and elections must be called within 90 days.
But nationals are of the view that prime minister Harris may use an extension of the State of Emergency to deal with the global pandemic as the basis to delay the elections.
“The state of emergency is in place. While there is a state of emergency and our people are threatened by this health crisis, the elections will have to be a back burner, because how can you go to a poll where you can pick up corona and you can become hospitalised,” said Byron.
Days before Byron’s statement, prominent local businessman A U Brown voiced concerns that “the SKN government, led by Timothy Harris may use the COVID-19 crisis to postpone the federal elections.”
“I’m doubtful the government can unilaterally postpone the elections. I do not subscribe to the view that the government can evoke the “war” clause to do so either, because we are not literally at war. The framers of the constitution never meant a figure of speech, such as “we are going to win the war against the coronavirus” would be a reason to postpone the vote,” said Browne, who pointed out that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.
“I’ve read Facebook comments by our nationals suggesting that the government is deliberately releasing COVID-19 statistics “piecemeal” to keep the country in a state of emergency for the purposes of delaying the elections. True or not, the only option for doing so is very clear. Natural disasters and pandemics are not listed as options.
With a few more months to go before our elections, as of today everything is uncertain. No one can truly predict how much longer the world will be held hostage by COVID-19. No one knows when life will return to normal, but one thing is for certain the elections must be held,” said Brown.
Local talk show host Austin Edinborough accused attorney-general Byron “of hijacking the COVID-19 press briefing to say that the government intends to become a dictatorship very soon.”
“Any democratic government would be calling the opposition parties to meet with government to discuss an exit strategy and to ensure that the people’s fundamental right to vote be satisfied by putting measures to in place to conduct a safe poll, including any new laws if necessary. This is the time when legislation is needed for security forces and essential services workers to vote ahead of polling day. That foresight was repealed by this government. Maybe there would even be the need for voting to take place over two days. These are the real issues to be considered,” said Edinborough.
“This prolonged state of emergency is part of Timothy Harris’ diabolical plot to impose a totalitarian regime in SKN and instill fear into Kittitians and Nevisians for stage two, which is to stay in office under the guise of dealing with the coronavirus,” said Bobby Jack in a FaceBook posting.
” February 16, 2020, long gone and the house must dissolve by May 14 and election within 90 days. It is BS to say you got to stay on to put back the economy on a sound footing when you have bastardized it by deception, lies, and scandals,” said Bobby.
He further stated: “The people are fed up with you and your cabal. Just like how you trumpeted the Constitution for the MONC, it should also be trumpeted in accordance with the holding of general elections. NO IF’ or BUT’S. We see what is happening in Guyana where the government loss the elections and still holding on to power.”
Holden Charles: “We need our election. If u can go bank, supermarket and pay Inland Revenue, then we can vote. I helped to vote dem in, time to vote dem out.”
Shelley Crosse said: “If one can line up to shop, they can line up to vote.”