Written by Val Henry Posted On: Monday, 21 May 2012 Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2012
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Basseterre, St. Kitts, (Monday 21st May, 2012)-The annual convention of the ruling St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party passed on Sunday, (20th May), without any dramatic and fiery incidents, similar to what pertained at last year’s gathering that saw the expulsion of one of its past senior government ministers, and attempts to have two other top executives distance themselves from that former colleague.
Instead, great effort was made to demonstrate to the populace and more importantly the electorate of St. Kitts that the party was taking steps to unite and close ranks. Though cracks of division were quite visible within the party’s hierarchy just after the 2004 General Elections, they appeared to have worsened following the poll in 2010; mainly with public spats between party leader and Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas and his deputy, (both at the party and government levels), Mr. Sam Condor. Douglas has also been known to be at odds with his Senior Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, who has been serving as Chairman of Labour for quite some time.
The effort to strike a note of unity at Sunday’s convention must have been critical, as an objective going into the convention, because rumours were high that Dr. Douglas was scheming to have his two senior colleagues sidelined and perhaps removed from their positions as chairman and deputy party leader.
With both Dr. Asim Martin and Cedric Liburd being nominated to challenge Sam Condor and Timothy Harris for their positions of Deputy Leader and Chairman, respectively, some political observers felt that this was evidence that indeed, there was a plan to marginalize the two popular Labour executives. Party leader Douglas has always stated that if he or any member is to be removed from any leadership position within the 80 year old organization, it must be done via a challenge at the convention.
As one political observer told MiyVue.com, however, if the objective was one of unity, why was it necessary, to mount a challenge against Condor and Harris for their positions? The view is that this would only confirm the predictions of the “Kittitian rumour mill” and lead to further mistrust within the ranks.
It was therefore strategic that both Cedric Liburd and Asim Martin decided to withdraw their candidacy and halt their contest against Condor and Harris. But this only came after Condor’s speech, indicating that he was fully supportive of the current leadership. There are those who have claimed also that the decision to challenge Condor and Harris for their leadership positions was designed to force their hands, and serve as a warning of what would happen to them and their political careers, if they did not fall in line, to show unity and support for Douglas as their leader.
Douglas however, was unopposed for his leadership position which he has held since 1989.
Douglas has already moved quickly to send a clear signal, warning that he has been given a new mandate to insist that there is unity at all levels of the party. In a strongly worded speech, he told members that his patience was running out, as it relates to those party officials who have been displaying disloyalty, (an obvious lash against Condor and Harris), through their public utterances. Douglas warned them that this would no longer be allowed to continue.
However, if the proclaimed unity is not translated into decisive actions of working together, in a spirit of mutual respect, Sunday’s convention may have only been the latest chapter in the ongoing discord.