by Jeff Fedee, STL Voice,
THE United Workers’ Party hosted a gathering last Saturday, at the Sandals Grande Hotel, to raise funds and to welcome the newly elected Prime Minister of St. Kitts/Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris, who demonstrated his skill as a powerful and captivating speaker. Dr. Harris received enthusiastic applause from the supporters, well-wishers and stalwarts of the UWP, who were also observing the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the party.
During his address, Dr. Harris made reference to the bruising campaign which he had gone through in the recent elections in St. Kitts/Nevis, at great sacrifice to himself on behalf of his people and country. In his address Dr. Harris displayed his intimate knowledge and familiarity with the politics of St. Lucia, when he surprised the gathering by exclaiming: ‘Watch your bread!” This resonated with the gathering and got wide applause, for this was a slogan popularized by patois announcer, Sam ‘Jook Bois’ Flood, on behalf of the United Workers Party, in a victorious election campaign against the St. Lucia Labour Party in 1992.
Dr. Harris exhorted the 300 or so attendees to look at the leadership of the country, and remember ‘then and now,’ and compare the two administrations. “Fifty years after, you can judge the transformation of St. Lucia in the fields of tertiary education, health and infrastructure”, he told the gathering. “It was a time when most had nothing, but the founding fathers of the UWP delivered on the vision. The common message to be derived from this, is that of the ability of great leaders to deliver,” he said.
The newly elected Prime Minister noted that when he realized that disunity would fracture and destroy his country, he was forced to take a stand and make the sacrifice, because in his words, “Unity must work for the betterment of the country, and I would not let my people down.” Despite the attempts to divide the people of St. Kitts/Nevis, the people yearned to come together for the betterment of the country, and that the resources of the country should be used for the achievement of national goals. He called on St. Lucians therefore to live in unity for the betterment of their country.
Dr. Harris spoke openly about his disappointment with the leaders of CARICOM, who stood idly by, when they should have come out and spoken clearly on principle, and stand on what was right and for justice for St. Kitts/Nevis. He said that when one man can defy the wishes of the representatives of the people, and suspend the debate on a motion of no-confidence for two years, which was unprecedented in Caribbean political history, the CARICOM leaders preferred to stand with one man against the people, instead of the Unity Group which stood for principle.
“What was more important to them, was that friendship took precedence over principle and justice,” Dr. Harris pointed out. He therefore praised the leader of the U.W.P. of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet, and the leader of the Opposition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Arnhim Eustace, in addition to Vere Bird of Antigua, and those beyond the Caribbean, who gave their support openly in their efforts to put the issue on the agenda at CARICOM meetings for discussion, but to no avail.
The newly elected Prime Minister told the audience that his opponent Dr.Denzil Douglas was a divisive figure who preached `tribalism’ in politics and disclosed what methods he, Dr. Douglas, used to overcome this obstacle. Against all odds and the resistance of the CARICOM leaders, it was the clarion call of ‘unity,’ which was embraced by the people of St. Kitts/Nevis, he told the gathering.
He revealed that in the attempts to form the Unity Party, there was an obsession over leadership and who would emerge as leader of the country. “Not all are agreeable” saidDr. Harris, “but when you recognize the vision and unity within, united and ready to govern, you get the opportunity once in a moment in history to advance an agenda that uplifts your country and people.” Drawing parallels to what is happening in St. Lucia, Dr. Harris called on UWP supporters to listen to the voices and advice of the stalwarts of the party, who have wisdom, and respect the leader in whom the people have placed their confidence.
Dr. Harris gave details of the tumultuous election campaign that was fought in St. Kitts/Nevis, and the Unity Party’s determination that St. Kitts/Nevis should remain constitutionally united: “With the clarion call of ‘Unity’. We won.!Dr. Douglas behaved like a bully and would boast about foreign investment and money in the banks. But what good is foreign investment and money in the banks, when you can’t borrow a cent, and when you go to the depressed areas of the country the people have nothing to shout about,” observed Dr. Harris.
The pivotal moment came with the attempt by Dr. Douglas to change the boundaries without going through the correct constitutional procedures for general elections. “We submitted petitions to the Caribbean Courts without success, and in finality the Unity Group resorted to the Privy Council, which delivered its historic judgement just four days before the elections, barring any change to the existing boundaries in the country. We were determined against the injustice and we got justice from the Privy Council,” Dr. Harris stated.
It was an inspiring address that Dr. Harris delivered and called on the Caribbean people to be committed to democracy and development for our region. He pointed to the power of prayer as a guide for the supporters of the U.W.P. The audience listened throughout with rapt attention and gave Harris an enthusiastic and standing ovation for his outstanding presentation.