There is a change in government in Nevis.
The Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) is back in power after defeating the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) in last week’s general elections.
Led by Vance Amory, who won his St. George’s seat by 518 votes, the CCM captured three of the five seats. Joseph Parry, whose NRP formed the government in the last seven years, easily regained his seat in St. Thomas by 307 votes.
There were 10,162 registered voters representing 84 per cent of Nevis’ population of 12,100.
The Nevis Island Assembly was dissolved last November, paving the way for new elections after the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court decision declaring the results of the July 2011 elections in St. John’s null and void after Hensley Daniel of the NRP beat Mark Brantley by just 14 votes.
Prior to the elections 19 months ago, the CCM alleged that nearly 200 names were illegally removed from the voters list, resulting in the disenfranchisement of its supporters. Brantley, who filed an election petition, won the controversial St. John’s seat last week, securing 1,584 votes. Daniel received 1,344.
CCM supporter and long-time Greater Toronto Area resident, Geoffrey Dore, was among 44 Nevisian nationals living in Canada who returned to their native country to cast their ballots.
“We wanted to make sure that our votes counted and help return the CCM to its rightful place as the party for the people of Nevis,” said Dore, who has lived in the GTA for the past four decades after spending eight years in the United States Virgin Islands.
The owner of a Brampton-based export business, Dore said nationals in the Diaspora and other neighbouring countries in the Caribbean returned in significant numbers to vote for the CCM.
“There were about 600 nationals in the United States that went back along with large numbers of Nevisians now living in St. Thomas, St. Croix, Tortola and St. Maarten,” said Dore.
Amory, who served as Premier for 14 years until 2006, said that re-energizing the economy and uniting Nevisians are his priorities.
“There are a number of things not in any specific order, but clearly we have to get the economy up and running again so that people can have jobs and the business sector can find some comfort in doing business, expanding their business and ensuring that they are profitable,” said the 63-year-old CCM founder who is the Minister of Finance, Statistics, Economic Planning, Education, Library Services, Human Resources, Telecommunications, Information, Trade, Industry and Consumer Affairs in the new government.
“I think we ought to be a party and administration of inclusion and we also need to be cooperative and collaborative wherever it’s necessary for the good of the country.”
Amory has pledged that his government will endeavour to work with Premier of St. Kitts, Dr. Denzil Douglas, and his government.
“We will always reach out,” said Amory. “If there are issues on which we can have common ground, I think it’s important that we discuss those issues across the waters with the federal government. We have had our issues with them. I think they were justified and I think we have articulated our position very carefully, clearly and decisively.”
In 1998, secessionists in Nevis narrowly failed to separate the island from St. Kitts in a referendum. Though the secessionists won a majority of “yes” votes, they didn’t secure the two-thirds majority needed to turn the island into a new nation.
A former Leewards and Combined Islands opening batsman, Amory led the secessionist movement arguing that the 11-kilometre island with a then population of nearly 9,000 was equipped to be independent of St. Kitts because it boasted a fledgling offshore financial industry and growing tourist industry.
Parry, on the other hand, has always been opposed to separation of the islands.
Nevisians insisted on a constitutional clause when the islands secured independence from Britain in 1983, allowing them to secede if two-thirds of the electorate voted to do so. Britain stripped Nevis of its legislature in 1882 and wedded it to St. Kitts.
With the CCM back in power, Dore said secession could become a hot-button issue again.
“Once St. Kitts continues to trample on Nevisians, there will always be talk of secession,” said Dore, who captained the Leewards and Combined Islands youth cricket teams in the 1960s.
Amory and his Cabinet were sworn in last Saturday.
Brantley is the deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism, Health, Gender, Social Affairs, Social Development, Youth, Sports, Community Development and Culture while Alexis Jeffers, who was victorious in St. James Parish by 220 votes, is Minister of Communications, Works and Public Utilities, Posts, Physical Planning, Natural Resources, Environment, Agriculture, Lands, Housing, Cooperatives and Fisheries.
Robelto Hector won the other NRP seat, disposing of Spencer Brand in St. Paul’s by a tally of 730 votes to 639.