Long-serving St. Kitts & Nevis Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor has broken his silence for resigning from his ministerial post last January.
A parliamentarian for the past 24 years, Condor stepped down two days after St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas fired Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Timothy Harris. At the time, Condor cited “issues with good governance and constitutional integrity” as his reasons for stepping down.
While in Toronto last weekend to meet with nationals, Condor laid out his reasons for demitting office.
“I have tried over the years to be very supportive of the PM,” he said. “On reflection, I could see now that he was concerned about my popularity with the people. I don’t know why this was the case because I did nothing other than demonstrate loyalty and support. Submitting my resignation was a very difficult thing to do but, in the end, my conscience could not allow me to do any other thing. I had to step away. The party infrastructure has been gradually crumbling over the years to the point where, in my opinion, the party is weaker than when we inherited it.”
Harris, who successfully defended his PhD dissertation at Concordia University in 2001, accompanied Condor on the North American visit that also included stops in New York and Miami.
The former party chair was dismissed for opposing the government-sponsored Senators Bill to increase the membership from three to six and a controversial land for debt legislation.
“We thought there were a number of things wrong with the land swap legislation,” said Harris. “There was not enough consultation with the people of St. Kitts & Nevis, neither was there adequate consultation with us as senior members of the government and the party. It was on the day of the parliament that we learned precisely where these 1,200 acres of land was going to come from.”
The eight acres of land in four rural communities, including Harris’, was swapped with the National Bank to settle public debts. The land was previously used for sugar production.
“The principal concern for us was that at the price at which those lands had to be sold, they would have been out of the reach of ordinary Kittitians and Nevisians,” said Harris. “We could not support that decision because it would have led to the alienation of the lands from the very people for whom the land was intended.”
St. Kitts & Nevis has experienced negative growth in the last five years and the unemployment rate is nearly 25 per cent.
“The country is under significant economic difficulty and clearly the policies of Dr. Douglas have not worked and they are unlikely to work because no new ideas are forthcoming,” said Harris. “He has exhausted his reservoir in terms of being able to bring new ideas to the fold. We believe the people in the Diaspora have an opportunity to say this is unacceptable, we want our democracy to be protected, we want a new order and we want a good government in St. Kitts & Nevis.”
Condor and Harris have joined four opposition members in writing to the Governor General indicating they do not support Douglas as Prime Minister and will vote in favour of a no-confidence motion filed by the opposition last December. The six Members of Parliament, who form the majority of elected representatives in the parliament, have charged that the delay in the tabling of the motion is a violation of their constitutional rights.
They have taken the matter to court and have also pledged to work together in some form of unity government arrangement should they win their seats in the next general election.
“The unity construct is not about people coming together for the purpose just of removing Dr. Douglas, but for the purpose of putting the country on a new path of development and good governance so that we could deal with the major issues, including constitutional and electoral reform and the imperative of revamping the economy and creating greater opportunity for people to do well,” said Condor.