If passed in the National Assembly, the landmark piece of legislation for the British Caribbean would realize the first-ever amendment to the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis, which took effect on Independence Day, September 19th, 1983.
The Team Unity Government is seeking to amend Section 52, which is concerned with the appointment of Ministers. Specifically, it proposes the insertion of two new subsections, stating in 52 (2) A that, “Notwithstanding subsection 52 (2), a Representative shall not hold office as Prime Minister for more than two terms, whether or not served consecutively” and stating in 52 (2) (B) that, “In this section, a ‘term’ refers to the period provided for in section 31 of the Constitution.” Section 31 is concerned with the Tenure of Office of Representatives and Senators.
If the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis (Tenure of Office of Prime Minister) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 were to be passed in the National Assembly, it would represent a significant watershed in the evolution of St. Kitts-Nevis politics, as well as a call to do politics differently.
The establishment of fixed leadership terms for the holder of the Office of Prime Minister would play a seminal role in aligning the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis with internationally recognized best practices in politics and governance. Importantly, this would serve to promote democracy by furthering succession planning and ensuring that the Office of Prime Minister, who is the head of government, represents the will of the people.
Political scientists and analysts agree that, “Democracy requires reliable processes for the transfer of power from one generation of leaders to the next.”
The monumental piece of legislation that seeks to establish term limits for the Office of Prime Minister is viewed as an indicator of the Team Unity Government’s commitment to its ongoing Good Governance and Accountability Agenda. This agenda was one of the platforms on which Prime Minister Harris and his colleagues won the 2015 general elections in St. Kitts and Nevis.