Less than 48 hours before an estimated 40,000 people go to the polls to elect a new government, both Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris and the leader of the main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) have been making last minute appeals to the electorate.
Harris, who is leading his Team Unity – a coalition of three political parties – into the June 5 general election, told supporters “this election you face a clear choice.
“You can risk the progress we have made by moving back to the past with unsafe streets and high IMF (International Monetary Fund) debt from the same old Douglas Labour Party, or we can move forward with Team Unity to a stronger and safer future,” he added.
“I encourage you on Friday, the fifth June to put your “X” next to the saw and tell your family and friends to do the same,” said Harris, who in 2015 led Team Unity to a 7-4 victory at the polls.
He said it was with “humility and vassitude that I ask for your support to help us continue the work we started just five short years ago. Together we have achieved much for …the Federation on a whole, but there is more work to be done” Harris said.
But Douglas, who is seeking to regain power after his defeat in the last general election, told SKNLP supporters that the ruling coalition had become “desperate in the final hours of this campaign” and were going to constituencies “where they are losing and offering people EC$25,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) in unsolicited loans.
He said the funds were being made available by the island’s development bank, which is headed by a relative of the prime minister.
“They are dishing out loans to people who are not even employed, who do not have to show any collateral,” Douglas said.
But he told supporters that the stimulus package outlined by the SKNLP, which ‘would become policy when we get back into office” and would fifer from that of the present administration which is dependent on funds from the Social Security.
“The money in Social Security is yours. It is what you have saved. Your employer dips his hands into your money every single month you make contributions to the Social Security. It should not be touched. We are now saying the (SKNLP) government through its own Consolidated Fund will dip into that, which is your fund…that would have been set aside from the EC$900 million that Denzil Douglas and Labour left there five years ago,” he said.
“My dear people, I feel very excited, we are in the final throes of the steps that are necessary to remove a corrupt government,” Douglas added.
Both Harris and Douglas have outlined plans for the development of their respective constituencies which they have been representing in Parliament for a number of years.
The elections here will not be observed by any regional or international monitoring team. A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) source told the Caribbean media Corporation (CMC) that it would be impossible for the regional grouping which has observed an election as recently as in Suriname, to meet the 14-day quarantine conditions insisted by the health authorities and the government as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Organisation of American States (OAS), which had been invited to observe the election, had the invitation revoked after it indicated that its team in Suriname would have flown to Basseterre for the assignment, according to a letter the SKNLP said it had received from the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro.
Last weekend, the Supervisor of Elections, Elvin Bailey, said protocols had been developed to safeguard voters against the virus and that they had been discussed and accepted by the COVID-19 Task Force. He said the measures included sanitization, distancing measures, and the wearing of masks.
“Voters will be required to briefly unmask so that their identity can be checked. Also, a cleansing solution will be provided for voters prior to the immersion in the indelible ink. We are urging voters to comply so that the voting process can flow smoothly and expeditiously,” he said.
Bailey announced late last month that oversight of the elections would be provided by “local observers-the Christian Council, Evangelical Association and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.”
However, in a statement, the non-governmental organisations expressed its concern with the manner in which the elections will be conducted with regards to the accommodation of the physical presence of regional and international Observers on the ground in the Federation to monitor the election process. ”
According to the NGO Coalition, it “neither has the human resources nor the training and experience that are required to manage, undertake, and comprehensively report on our own on the 2020 Federal Elections.”
Archdeacon Isaiah Phillip in an interview with WINNFF said “If we reach the stage where we have an electoral process that people have doubts about, we have serious issues of social cohesion”.