Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has been given a deadline to resolve the issues facing the coalition Team Unity government or dissolve parliament and pave the way for fresh general elections as the rift within the administration widened.
Nevis premier and leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, in a television broadcast on Saturday night, said that Harris had done nothing to resolve the issues in the public domain regarding the government.
The coalition government comprises Harris’ People’s Labour Party (PLP), the People’s Action Movement (PAM) and Brantley’s CCM.
In his broadcast, Brantley said that he and PAM leader and Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards had sent a joint letter to Harris giving him the Wednesday deadline and insisting that the coalition would not be used for the personal ambition of anyone individual.
“To this end and consistent with our own ongoing efforts to save our Team Unity government, the Honourable Shawn Richards and I have delivered a written communication to the Honourable Prime Minister setting our position for a path forward.
“We have taken the unprecedented step of putting a deadline of Wednesday, April 20, 2022, for a response from the prime minister, barring which we can only conclude that he and his team have no interest or desire to save this Team Unity government.
“We shall therefore know by Wednesday whether we can achieve resolution, or whether we face dissolution,” Brantley told the nation.
Last Thursday, following their latest round of discussions to save the coalition, Harris, in a televised broadcast, said he remained “fully committed” to bring to an end the rift within his coalition administration, insisting that the country “must have a Cabinet that is fully committed to addressing the pressing issues that confront our people”.
Harris said that issues confronting the government related to governance and transparency, a reassignment of ministerial duties, the external involvement of global financial institutions, and an increase in the operating budget of Nevis, were among the matters on the agenda.
“The meeting was cordial, as was the one held last week,” he said, noting that at the Thursday meeting he had proposed a framework “to address the issues raised”.
“This framework included the introduction of a code of conduct for the better functioning of the cabinet. I further proposed that all subject to greater accountability to the Cabinet through regular reporting, so that members may be better apprised of the workings of the entire government,” Harris said, addressing briefly talk of a cabinet reshuffle and issues related to the powers wielded by the prime minister’s office within the Team Unity framework.
“I committed to undertake a review of the makeup of the Cabinet in due course, with a view to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the government as a whole. I made it clear that I could not allow the constitutional prerogative of the office of the prime minister to be diminished.”
But, Brantley added, “the principles of Team Unity, which allowed him the privilege of being our prime minister should also not be diminished”.
“We cannot and must not use the ladder of Team Unity to get to the top and kick it down as being a mere construct for personal advancement,” Brantley said.