The first of three general elections which are expected to produce new governments in the Caribbean Community this year was held in St. Kitts on Monday with the opposition Team Unity Party led by disgruntled former members of the outgoing administration winning a clear majority of the parliamentary seats and unseating a controversial cabinet that had run the country for the past 20 years.
Prime Minister Denzil Douglas who until Monday had been the most senior and longest serving leader in CARICOM conceded defeat to incoming Prime Minister Timothy Harris who had been his one-time foreign affairs and finance minister but who grew increasingly unhappy about the level of corruption on the twin-island Federation with St. Kitts, a controversial dollars for citizenship scheme and the general lack of accountability in governmental affairs.
Team Unity walked away with seven of the 11 seats that were up for grabs, giving it an easy parliamentary majority to pass new or amend existing legislation.
In all five general elections are scheduled in the regional bloc this year with St. Kitts-Nevis being first out of the bloc. Guyana’s which is scheduled for May 11 is likely to be next unless Ralph Gonsalves in St. Vincent or Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Trinidad decides to name a date before May 11. Suriname has already scheduled this for late May, almost five years to the date of the previous election.
Like Gonsalves, President Desi Bouterse is likely to win a second five-year term. Polls show that Guyana and Trinidad will likely have new administrations.
Harris and Team Unity cabinet ministers are expected to be sworn in to office late this week. The holding of island elections came just three days after the two main opposition parties in Guyana said that they are so determined to effect change in the country that they had formed a united coalition to oust the governing People’s Party (PPP) from office after almost 23 years in office.
Like St. Kitts, leaders of A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) in Guyana say they can take no more of the widespread level of greed and graft of PPP ministers and top players, many of who openly flaunt the wealth they have acquired from wheeling and dealing with investors or from skimming millions from numerous local and foreign-funded projects. They want the PPP out.
They also plan to set up an investigative tribunal that could likely bring criminal charges against top officials for their years of association with the narco trade, private hit squads which executed dozens of criminal suspects and the criminalization of nearly every layer of Guyanese society.
Until the pre-election agreement was announced Saturday evening, the two parties, the AFC in particular, had vowed never to team up with APNU for fears it would have killed its election chances but the AFC said it did so in the interest of the country and at the behest of groups and individuals who think it is the surest way of ousting the PPP.
They have already given the nation a modus as to how cabinet and other positions will be shared, with APNU’s Leader retired army general David Granger being the presidential candidate and journalist turned attorney Moses Nagamootoo of the AFC being the nominee for prime minister.