Idyllic island elections caught in a political storm – Daily Business

seat of power

As the tiny two-island nation of St Kitts-Nevis heads to the polls today (Friday August 5), the Commonwealth birthplace of US founding father Alexander Hamilton risks becoming embroiled in a string of scandals that spread to the Caribbean islands.

The nation, located between Anguilla and Antigua, is an idyllic vacation destination, with cloud-capped mountains, rainforests, beaches and more green monkeys than its 56,000 human inhabitants. The Nevis house where Hamilton was born is a major tourist attraction.

Increasingly, however, St. Kitts and Nevis is surrounded by allegations over governance, probity and the rule of law higher up in the Caribbean archipelago, where rampant corruption has led a commission to recommend a suspension. partial constitution of the British Virgin Islands and the reimposition of direct British rule.

Dubai’s Middle Eastern Times newspaper claimed earlier this year that 5,500 passports had been offered as payment to a St. Kitts-based company called Caribbean Galaxy to build a prison under the national Citizen By Investment (CBI) scheme. ).

Prime Minister Timothy Harris, who leads the People’s Labor Party (PLP), has strongly refuted the corruption allegations.

Mark Brantley, the premier of Nevis who leads the island’s Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), said Dr Harris portrays Nevisians as beggars dependent on handouts from their larger neighbor in order to deny them their fair share of CBI funds.

historic house

Mr Brantley said Nevisians are frustrated because their island accounts for 21% of the combined population of St Kitts and Nevis but receives only 7% of CBI funds.

“Obviously Dr. Harris thinks it’s fair,” he said. “We’re just closed.”

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Elections were called after the prime minister was forced to dissolve parliament due to the People’s Action Movement and CCM tabling a motion of no confidence in his coalition government.

Dr Harris responded by sacking six government ministers, including Foreign Secretary Mr Brantley.

This week Sir Kennedy Simmonds, who was St Kitts Nevis’ first prime minister in 1983, called for the removal of Dr Harris, who was named in a 2018 UK High Court judgment in a corruption.

Sir Kennedy said Dr Harris was not good for democracy and the federation of St Kitts-Nevis, which was ‘sinking into a crisis of morality amid a creeping, selfish dictatorship’ in the midst of ‘a political nightmare of nepotism and greed”.

He accused Prime Minister Harris of “attempting to corrupt the electoral process and to steal and buy the election”.

Michael J Perst, a Nevis financial services and real estate investor, is concerned about the situation on the island and is challenging St. Kitts and Nevis Director of Public Prosecutions, Valston Graham and Nevis Regulator, Heidi-Lynn Sutton, to demonstrate that public officials follow due process and the rule of law.

“Investors seek the sanctity of business contracts, due process and the rule of law,” he said. “Without it, the money will find another destination.”

Allegations of irregularities in the Caribbean have intensified in recent months. In April, British Virgin Islands Prime Minister Andrew Fahie was charged with cocaine trafficking and money laundering conspiracy after he was arrested in Miami by the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

In May, a highly critical final report from a commission of inquiry launched by the BVI in 2021 to flag widespread abuses recommended suspending the territory’s constitution and dissolving its elected government.

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In May, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland called at an anti-corruption conference in St. Kitts-Nevis for greater collaboration among Commonwealth Caribbean member states to “sweep corruption aside”.

Elections are contested in St. Kitts by the PLP, the St. Kitts and Nevis Labor Party and the PAM and in Nevis by the CCM, the Nevis Reform Party and the Moral Restoration Movement.

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