St Kitts – Nevis prime minister politicising COVID-19, says Astaphan

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Dwyer Astaphan is a lawyer and former St Kitts-Nevis Minister of National Security and Tourism

By Caribbean News Global contributor

BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Operation Rescue’s founder, Dwyer Astaphan, who helped fashioned the three-party PLP/CCM/PAM coalition government, has accused prime minister Dr Timothy Harris of politicising the COVID-19 pandemic briefings and has labelled a total shutdown of the country on the upcoming Labour Day weekend (7 p.m. Friday,  April 29 to 7 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5, 2020) an “act of excessive muscularity.”

“The speech made at the COVID-19 briefing last Friday was not a COVID-19 speech, it was a political speech. Respectfully, out of place and unnecessary, unstatesmanlike, not all prime ministerial and sounded to me, Donald Trumpish. Unfortunately, on that occasion and more than one occasion, I have observed this prime minister, his willingness to criticise and even ridicule people who disagree with him,” Astaphan said on his weekly talk show “The Operation Room”.

Astaphan has accused prime minister Harris “of talking politics and attacking personalities, and going back to 2009, what the deficit was during COVID-19 briefings, thus insulting the peoples’ intelligence.”

“He must speak only on those COVID-19 issues and when he is in parliament, he must be a statesman, and adapt to the situation that he is in. He is having increasing problems of avoiding being offensive,” said Astaphan, prime minister Harris is not helping get businesses back on track in reference to Dr Harris’ Labour Day weekend lockdown.

Astaphan said businessmen have complained of the late notices of locking down which deprives them of making adequate arrangements for themselves and their employees, who also have to make their arrangements.

“They say it is just clumsy, unprofessional and inconsiderate to the nation to be waiting to inform the country what was going to happen the next day and that such negligence on the part of the prime minister could not only upset the country’s economy but also cause psychological damage to the people,” said Astaphan. Dr Harris’ shutting down the country over the long Labour Day weekend “an act of excessive muscularity, an act of spite and an act of possible sadism – inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.”

“Some people when you put them in a position of power, use that power to inflict pain on other people to validate themselves. ‘I have power. I have the big stick in my hand and I will punish you, if, when, and how I want and for how long’.”

The labour movement in St Kitts and Nevis would traditionally hold its annual Miss Labour Queen Pageant on the Saturday before staging the tradition Labour Day March on Labour Day which is celebrated on the first Monday in May.

“I am not saying that the Labour Movement must be free to have their traditional queen show and march, no not at all (as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), but are you sending us a mixed and confusing message, (prime minister), when you relax the restrictions, then for no reason you put the country on a long weekend total lockdown. That is confusing people, said Astaphan, who concluded:

“If it is the conclusion to lock down the country for the entire Labour Day weekend, then, in my opinion, the idea of politics must have come into the consideration which would mean that the decision to lockdown, which should be based on a safe balance between public health and economics with a tilt in favour of public health, then indeed and wrongly so, factor in politics.”

Astaphan said it is not hard to see that prime minister Harris is playing politics with the pandemic when in the recent sitting of parliament, a government minister wore a mask in his party colour and candidates for the three-party coalition are observed distributing care packages on lockdown days while opposition candidates are confined to their homes like other citizens and residents in compliance with the state of emergency regulations.

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