Last updated: October 5, 2017 at 9:10 am
The leader of the opposition in St Kitts and Nevis has hit out at the country’s prime minister, who last night accused him of holding dual citizenship.
Denzil Douglas – himself a former prime minister, having been in job from 1995 until 2015 – said these “diversions” will not “dissuade” him from questioning Prime Minister Timothy Harris’ new Hurricane Relief Fund.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Harris unexpectedly revealed that the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party leader is a citizen of another nation – which he did not name – and that Douglas promotes the citizen by investment scheme of that country.
The prime minister, a former party colleague of Douglas, did not produce any evidence to support this claim. He laid down a “challenge” to Douglas to “confirm the truth”.
At present, no evidence has been offered to support this claim.
When approached by WIC News this morning, Denzil Douglas came out swinging, passionately defending himself while denying any wrongdoing.
This issue has only arisen because the SKNLP has been criticising Harris’ Hurricane Relief Fund, Douglas said.
“Timothy Harris is trying diversion tactics, taking away from the real issues of the day. The question is ‘why did he create a slush fund to by slashing our citizenship by investment programme contributions by 50%?’. That is the question he needs to answer.
“He is trying diversion tactics to say that I have had dual citizenship – that is bullshit. I have never held dual citizenship. I have never applied for citizenship of any other country. I only hold citizenship – always – for St Kitts and Nevis.”
He is no interest in becoming a citizen of any other country, he added.
Fuel to Hurricane Relief Fund fire
During his address last night, Harris painted his parliamentary foe as a hypocrite who had once been firmly against holders of dual citizenship – only to now be one of them.
“So serious was this matter of dual citizenship for persons participating in the parliamentary life of the country that Dr Douglas passed the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Act No 16 of 2009,” the prime minister said.
“It wasn’t just simply a matter of policy. It was something that he felt so deeply moved about that he was moved to bring a piece of legislation – and I supported the legislation for what it was worth – as a matter of principle that those who are coming before the people of the country for service, must come unencumbered to the extent that that principle was eliminated in the parliament.”
Harris has been under intense pressure from the opposition in recent weeks.
Major changes to the federation’s Citizenship by Investment Programme were announced last month, halving the amount of money applicants have to contribute for the passport.
This money – US$150,000 – would be set aside in a new Hurricane Relief Fund, which the government said would help the country recover after natural disasters, including the recent passage of Hurricane Maria.
It has since emerged that this six-month option that it will not replace the citizenship schemes but instead function as a third choice.
Since the Hurricane Relief Fund was announced, it has been consistently criticised by Douglas and the SKNLP – something which the former prime minister reiterated today.
“Harris has been condemned by his own CARICOM colleagues, and by ambassadors in the Caribbean region. He has lost his credibility and he has destroyed our citizenship programme.
“It was not well through-through, and the intention is not honourable. It was designed as a slush fund. He used the hurricane situation to create a slush fund.”