ST. KITTS – matter involving Opposition Leader has international significance

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris says the case in which his government is seeking a High Court ruling on whether or not a former prime minister should be removed from Parliament because he is alleged to be in possession of a diplomatic passport of another country has “significance to the Commonwealth family with their rich Westminster model of democracy”.

“The Constitution specifies who can be a member of the Parliament and how membership in the House is invalidated or brought to an end. Dr Douglas then will defend the case as to whether he is in breach of the Constitution at section 28(1)(a) and the National Assembly Elections Act,” Harris told a news conference as he made reference to the efforts to remove former prime minister and Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas from the Parliament.

Last month, Attorney General Vincent Byron said the government had filed a fixed date claim form for the High Court to rule on whether or not the former prime minister possessed a diplomatic passport of another country.

According to the documents filed in the High Court, the government is seeking a declaration that since the election to the National Assembly on February 16th, 2015, “Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of the Commonwealth of Dominica, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely the said Commonwealth of Dominica”.

The government is also seeking a declaration that Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis and wants an injunction restraining him from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member.

The government is also seeking costs and “such further and/or other relief as this Honourable Court may deem just and expedient”.

Last October, Prime Minister Harris accused Douglas of holding a Dominican diplomatic passport and said his administration would move to the High Court to get him expelled from the National Assembly.

Harris said then that the government “is finalising an application to the High Court, seeking declarations that the Leader of the Opposition is no longer eligible to continue sitting as a representative in the National Assembly and that he should, accordingly, be required to vacate his seat”.

Harris said that the issue had already been brought to the attention of the Speaker “given the importance of this for our democracy, our country, our people and its parliament”.

Douglas, who until February 2015, was the longest-serving head of government in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has, in the past, denied the allegation made by Harris, who at one time had served as his finance minister, but had been dismissed, prior to the last general election.

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