Dismissed Dr. Harris confesses during debate in parliament that he demanded the resignation of PM Douglas

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 30TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Dismissed Senior Minister and Minister of Agriculture, International Trade, Consumer Affairs, Marine Resources, Industry and Commerce, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris has admitted he had demanded the resignation of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas as Prime Minister.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday during debate on legislation to increase the number of senators in the lawmaking body, Dr. Douglas disclosed that Minister Harris demanded his resignation and that he be named Prime Minister.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday. Left is Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Sam Condor and Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris (at center)

“Some members believe that because the Government has been going through a somewhat challenging time; they would wish to bring the country into a state of crisis, which will not happen,” said Dr. Douglas.

“Some people have come to think that this is their most opportune time in becoming the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis. I say further that if what I said before were allegations, what I have been told myself, is not an allegation, because I have been told by the Member (Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris), facing me in my office, that I must step down as the Prime Minister and give it to him or one of my other colleagues,” Dr. Douglas told the National Assembly.

On a Point of Order, Dr. Harris, although suggesting that Prime Minister Douglas and Member for St. Christopher 6 “is misleading the house deliberately and calculatedly,” then admiited:

“I told the member for #6 (PM Douglas) that he should resign because he had brought the country into a state of crisis and I went on to say to the Honourable member; he asked me what are the options, the options are quite clear when you bring the country into a state of crisis, you resign or you call a general elections; that is what I said to the Honourable Member for #6. I was careful not to mention who; I said you must resign, because you had brought the country into a state of crisis or you can call a general election.”

Dr. Douglas insisted there was Cabinet approval and agreement that all would support the Senators Bill 12 months ago to ensure that there is a Deputy Speaker and again accused his former minister of using the opportunity to “bring the life of the Government to an end by asking me to resign. And I have refused.”

Dr. Harris who was relegated to the Back Bench responded: “Again the Honourable member is continuing down a path. By asking the member for #6 (Hon. Prime Minister) to resign does not bring the life of the Government to the end.”

But the Prime Minister again insisted that Dr. Harris asked him in his office on Monday the 10th day of December to resign.

In announcing the dismissal of Senior Minister Harris last Friday night, Prime Minister Douglas said he had become more and more vocal and intense to and it is accompanied by political activity in the wider community aimed at undermining the programmes and initiatives of the Government.

“It seems quite clear that Senior Minister Harris does not regard himself as being bound by the collective responsibility of the Cabinet and this could become disruptive to the smooth flow of government business. Specifically Senior Minister Harris has refused to support the Government sponsored “St. Kitts – Nevis – Anguilla National Bank Limited (Vesting of Certain Land) Act”; He has indicated to the Cabinet and to the entire country that he will not support the Government-sponsored Senators (Increased of Number) Bill 2012; He has consistently refused to confirm to the Cabinet that he will support the Budget when it comes before Parliament for approval; and he has refused to confirm to Cabinet that he will vote against a Motion of No Confidence in the Government of which he is a Senior Minister. Even more critically he has clearly expressed his unwillingness to work with the leadership of the Government and of the Labour Party to advocate and implement critical policies of the Government,” Prime Minister Douglas told the Nation in a radio and television broadcast.

“In fact, based on my interaction with the Senior Minister Harris in recent months, I have formed the view that the Senior Minister will not participate meaningfully in the Government unless he is appointed Prime Minister. However, the Labour Party is a longstanding institution with strong democratic traditions that outline the processes by which one moves into a position of leadership in the Party. It is not within my power to grant Party leadership to anyone. It is the members of the Party that must do so. Similarly, it is not in my power to leave position of Prime Minister in my Will or to give to whomsoever I wish. The Prime Ministership is not of a Dynasty or Monarchy. The choice of Prime Minister rests in the hand of the people of this country.

“Of course, it is completely within the right of the Senior Minister Harris or any Member of Parliament to hold and express views contrary to the Government or the Party of which he is a part. The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and it is not my intention to muzzle anyone. However, when differences between a Party or Government and one of its members are of such a fundamental nature that it could undermine the ability of Government to discharge its obligations to the people it serves, then the leadership of the Government has a duty to take action in the interest of the Government and people it serves. The need for action in the case of Senior Minister Harris is even more acute in view of his activities and statements aimed at undermining the programmes and initiatives of the Government.

It is in this context that I have, today, asked His Excellency the Governor General to revoke the appointment of the Honourable Timothy Harris as a Minister of Government and he has acted accordingly, in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution,” Dr. Douglas said.

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