BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Shawn Richards, has hinted at further problems within the Team Unity coalition government, saying the “gulf between what is required to save the partnership and the preferences of the Prime Minister remains large and troubling”.
In a television broadcast on Thursday night, Richards, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said he was disappointed at the actions taken by Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris to address several issues related to government business and that his party would meet to decide on the way forward.
The coalition government comprises Harris’s People’s Labour Party (PLP), PAM and the Nevis-based Citizens Movement (CCM) and the coalition met on Thursday to address several issues ranging from governance, transparency, distribution of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) revenue and housing.
“When we met at the first meeting, PAM and CCM made their positions clear on several issues, and we thought that it was both fair and reasonable to give some time to the Prime Minister to consider the matters and to report back to us today.
“However, while there was some minor progress on a few issues, it was not what the country needed for an urgent resolution. Unfortunately, the gulf between what is required to save the partnership and the preferences of the Prime Minister remains large and troubling,” Richards said in the broadcast.
Media reports said that the survival of the coalition, which was returned to power last year, was an important step in healing the division following weeks of public disagreement with members of the coalition publicly combatting each other.
“I have to report that there is no meaningful platform on which we can build within the present system, and with original promises of good governance broken, our faith and trust continue to be diminished; we continue to search even as we speak for the true prospects of real unity,” Richards said in his broadcast.
“I have decided, as leader of PAM, to meet immediately with my caucus in an emergency session. I will duly report to them in detail about what transpired today and seek input on all the issues,” Richards said, adding “afterwards we will decide on the way forward.
“At the end of our consultations PAM will provide the nation with a comprehensive statement that would be definitive on the way forward for us. This will come in the short term,” he said, adding “I wish to assure fellow citizens that the People’s Action Movement is firmly committed to do what is right not in the best interest of a few or ourselves, but in the best interest of all citizens”.
PAM and the CCM leader, Mark Brantley are known to have submitted roadmaps for change, with Richards saying “both the leaders …presented reasonable proposals that we felt would have adequately addressed important issues of national interests, such as good governance transparency and accountability.
“But it turned out to be a bridge too wide for the Prime Minister to cross. We still could not see eye to eye on the decisive steps that are needed to ensure that repairs are undertaken to address the broken-down trust,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.
Richards said that he hopes Easter, which “represents re-birth and new beginnings and also represents hope…also represents sacrifices.
“Let’s pray for each other and lets ask the Lord to give all of us wisdom. Just as the glorious resurrection followed the crucifixion we remain hopeful,” Richards said.
Last month, CCM leader Bark Brantley called on members of the coalition to stop the “vicious attacks” against him and his family even as he sought to make it clear that his CCM would remain in the coalition.
Brantley told the annual convention of the PAM that a key promise made when the coalition was formed ahead of the 2015 general election has not been kept and insists that the funds raised from the CBI should be of benefit to the people of Nevis.
Under the CBI program, foreign investors are granted citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the twin island Federation.
Brantley said that even though in the last two general elections, the PLP did not win a majority of the seats, the coalition continued because of its outlined objectives.