Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 15, 2016 (SKNIS): Saturday January 16, 2016, will mark one year since the Douglas led Administration convened an emergency sitting of the parliament at 4:15pm on that dark Friday afternoon that has been forever recorded in the annals of history.
The Emergency Sitting of Parliament of January 16, 2015, will be broadcast on ZIZ television at 8:00pm on Saturday January 16, and at 1:30pm on Sunday January 17.
This sitting saw the passage of a resolution that purportedly allowed for the change of electoral boundaries in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Vincent Byron, who was an Opposition Senator at the time, sits on the Constituency Boundary Commission. Describing January 16, 2015, as a day of infamy, the visibly emotional attorney general recounted the events of that day, noting that Team Unity came together to promote good governance and move away from the dictatorial governance that the Douglas- led administration had become known for.
He explained that the Constituency Boundaries Commission met for the last time earlier that Friday afternoon of January 16th around 2 pm, adding that this was unusual as it was the first time that the commission had ever met on a Friday afternoon. He further explained that the Honourable Vance Amory, the Premier of Nevis, who is also a member of the commission, was scheduled to be off island but had postponed the trip.
The Attorney General said that the meeting was held on the third floor of Government Headquarters. He explained that he had objected to the report and had chosen not to sign off on it, indicating that Premier Amory had not signed it either because the commission had not followed proper procedure in changing the boundaries.
Attorney General Byron said that the three members who supported the reports signed it at 3:30pm and on leaving the third floor of Government Headquarters at 3:45pm, Premier Amory received a text advising him that parliament would convene at 3:45pm.
“So as we came out of the third floor and started down the steps we noticed some unusual activity going on on the second floor around the entrance of parliament and so we stopped,” said the attorney general, adding that he recalled very vividly that he saw the Honourable Patrice Nisbett and shortly after that the then Attorney General Jason Hamilton and enquired of them both if there was to be a parliamentary sitting. He said that both men denied knowledge of any such sitting.
The Attorney General said it was just after this that “a police officer ran up the stairs to both Premier Amory and I and handed us a notice that there was to be a parliament.” He said that at this time he started to call his colleagues advising them of what was happening. Explaining that the then Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Mark Brantley was off island, Mr Byron said the other members of the Opposition although having rushed to the parliament arrived around 5:35pm.
“By this time, I understood what was happening and became very uptight. I rushed to my office to try to galvanize the legal process to do something and I was able to engage legal counsel who happened to be in St. Kitts and Nevis and we journeyed to the court where an application was quickly filed for an injunction against the use of the report by the governor general, “adding that eventually the injunction was granted.
In the meanwhile, according to Mr Byron, persons who viewed what was happening on television would be aware that “there was a farce and a mockery of parliament going on.” He explained that members of the opposition were not given the opportunity to speak, reminding that the Honourable Eugene Hamilton was expelled by the Speaker of the House and the Honourable Sam Condor was shut down and the resolution was passed and the House adjourned.
Following the adjournment of the House, Dr. Denzil Douglas said in an address to supporters on the front steps of Government Headquarters that he had asked the governor general to dissolve the House.
The Attorney General explained that this day should always be remembers as the day the Douglas led Administration sank to an all-time low in the desperate quest to hold on to power and pledged that the Team Unity Administration will ensure that this travesty will never happen again.
Vincent Byron Jr gives insight into activities leading up to January 16th 2015 a Day of Infamy
In late January 2015 Vincent Byron Jr. , then senator and now Attorney General gave an almost 2 hour account and history of the activities that led up to the infamous and unprecedented “hijacking” of the St.Kitts-Nevis Parliament on January 16th 2015 by the then Dr. Denzil Douglas led SKN Labour/NRP Coalition.
See below for interview with now AG Byron as he gives a detailed background on the Electoral Boundary issue.