ST. KITTS-Date set for government legal battle to remove Opposition Leader from Parliament

Douglas being interviewed outside of parliament (WINN FM photo)

A High Court judge will begin hearing arguments on Monday, February 26, in the case in which the St. Kitts-Nevis government is seeking to have Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas removed from the Parliament on the grounds that he is the holder of a diplomatic passport issued by Dominica.

The Office of the Attorney General late last month had moved to the High Court with a fixed date claim pursuant to Section 36 of the Constitution of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis and Section 12 of the National Assembly Elections Act (Cap 2.01).

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris (left) and Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas (File Photo)

A government statement on Monday said that as a result of the application, the Attorney General Vincent Byron is seeking a declaration from the High Court 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”

It said that the reason for the move is that Douglas “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.

“Additionally, the fixed date claim form application seeks a declaration that Dr. Denzil Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis; an injunction restraining Dr. Denzil Douglas from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member thereof; costs, and such further and/or other relief as the Honourable Court may deem just and expedient.”

Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said the case 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.

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.

Douglas had said then, that he “does not hold dual citizenship, has never held dual citizenship, does not hold and never held citizenship of Dominica or any other country, except that of St. Kitts and Nevis”.

Dominican-born Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, who is representing Douglas, ,has brushed aside the allegation, saying his client did not need to take an oath in order to be a citizen of Dominica.

The government statement noted that the Dominica diplomatic passport in Douglas possession is due to 3expire on  July 29, 2020.

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