BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 6, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government remains firm on its position that the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas is not qualified to be represented in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis, as it has been found that he is the holder of a Diplomatic Passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
The Diplomatic Passport, which bears the number DP0000462, lists Dr. Douglas’ nationality as Dominican.
Prime Minister Harris, while addressing the large turnout of citizens and residents at a town hall meeting on Sunday, 5th November at the Edgar T. Morris Primary School, stated this matter raises a serious legal question as to whether or not the Opposition Leader is eligible to continue sitting as a Parliamentary Representative.
As such, the Government has sought legal advice, as this matter has significant implications for the proper functioning of the Parliament, particularly as it relates to the composition and democracy of the House of Assembly.
“We know that this matter is sufficiently serious to warrant the High Court to pass judgment on this matter, and so we intend to ensure that there is a determination. The constitutional and Parliamentary importances of this matter are too great for us to just leave it like that,” the Prime Minister said to a rousing round of applause from those in attendance.
Prime Minister Harris also pointed out that there is hardly any Western model of democracy one can point to where a contender for the highest office of Government is not a citizen.
Referencing the “Birther Movement” that surfaced in the United States of America in the build-up to the 2008 Presidential elections, Dr. Harris said “Everywhere in the world, a man who is a citizen of another land could never serve in the highest office of that country…because a man who will serve as the leader of the land must have his heart, his soul and his mind in the country that he is ruling over.”
The “Birther Movement” refers to theorists known as “birthers” who falsely believed that United States President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and was therefore ineligible for presidency. Barack Obama was indeed born in Hawaii.
Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris reaffirmed that it was Dr. Douglas who, during his tenure as prime minister, opposed the idea of elected parliamentary representatives holding dual citizenship and, in 2009, played an instrumental role in bringing several pieces of legislation to Parliament that amended the National Assembly Elections Act, thereby reinforcing Section 28 of the Constitution.
Article 6 (I) of the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Act of 2009 states, in part, that a person shall not be qualified to be elected or appointed as a member [of the National Assembly] if he or she (a) is, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister stressed further that the decent and honourable thing is for the Opposition Leader to come clean in relation to this matter and to declare fully all information related to his acquisition of the Diplomatic Passport of Dominica.
Prime Minister Harris added, “If he has any integrity, if he is concerned about the democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis, I call upon him to leave the Parliament, and if Douglas refuses to go voluntarily then we will ask the court to debar him from the Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis.”