The withdrawal of the reading of the amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act from the Order Paper of yesterday’s sitting of Parliament is believed to have been triggered by the whistle blowing from the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party.
Minutes before the start of September 3 sitting of the House, St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) issued a statement pointing out that the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government is hell bent on disenfranchising hundreds of nationals of St Kitts and Nevis who live overseas from voting in the next general election.
At the start of the session, Attorney General Vincent Byron rose and informed the House that the Bill would be withdrawn from the Order Paper for the day’s sitting.
The Labour Party statement read: “In less than one hour, at 10 AM, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis will be bringing forward for a second reading the Amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act (NAE Act).
“This is being done in total and utter secrecy and without any consultation with the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis at home and abroad!” the opposition party’s statement continued
“Only a few weeks ago #deceptive Harris assured overseas voters in Maryland during an interview with Everton Powell #Obi that this will not happen.
Nationals at home and abroad should #protestandmobilise to remove the Harris regime,” the release added
Under the old NAE Act, an overseas national was qualified to vote. They could vote once they or their parents have a home in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Under the new Amendment, the automatic qualification of the overseas national to vote has been taken away. The two sections- Section 37 (1)(b) (c) as well as Section 37 B- have been removed. This would mean that the only way a national resident overseas can qualify to vote as a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis, is to be a citizen and to be resident in the constituency where they will be voting for six months prior.
This has major implications for our overseas nationals and would essentially disenfranchise overseas voters.
Also, Commonwealth citizens who are allowed to vote under the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis will be completely barred from voting.
The Labour Party releases also indicated that the amendment to the Act would also mean taxation without representation for immigrants who reside in St. Kitts and Nevis.