Wed | Dec 7, 2016

democracy at risk

Published:Tuesday | February 17, 2015 | 11:05 PM

JAMAICA'S parliamentary opposition, yesterday, said that the failure of the St Kitts and Nevis election authorities to announce the results of general elections in that country could have an adverse impact on the regionalism and efforts to make the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) work.

"We are part of a region and we are talking about regional integration. The impact of any one of the regional states on the democratic process affects all of us. We are viewed as a region, we have pushed hard with the integration movement and we are part of the Treaty of Chagaramus which binds us in a certain way," Edmund Bartlett, the spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said yesterday.

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States yesterday called for ballot counting in Monday's general election "to be expedited so that the election results can be declared without delay".

There are roughly 36,000 registered voters in St Kitts and Nevis, where Prime Minister Denzil Douglas was seeking his fifth consecutive term in office. He faced a tough fight from a coalition of three opposition parties led by Timothy Harris, a former minister in Douglas' Cabinet.

Amid the delay in announcing the results, regional leaders have reacted with dismay.

"The region's reputation for democracy and for free and fair elections will be under threat as long as this issue in St Kitts and Nevis remains unresolved," Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in a statement.

Bartlett said that the Caribbean is known as "the most stabled democratic block of countries in the world and that tradition has been maintained in that we respect the principle of one man, one vote, same man same vote".

"We respect the ballot as the means of selecting a government. To have a situation where the will of the people has been expressed and it is being suppressed by an operative it is anathema to the region. It is not something that should be encouraged," he added.

Andrew Holness, Jamaica's Opposition Leader, said CARICOM needs to get involved urgently to head off what could be a divisive and traumatic election controversy due to the actions of the election supervisor who has reportedly halted the counting of ballots without explanation.

He added that the region must seek to ensure that the democratic process is maintained and that the citizens of St Kitts and Nevis retain their right to the conduct of free and fair elections.