St Kitts-Nevis governor general refuses to swear in new PM
BASSETERRE, St Kitts -- The already controversial general election process in St Kitts and Nevis took another unexpected turn on Wednesday when Governor General Sir Edmund Lawrence refused to swear in the country’s new prime minister, Dr Timothy Harris.
Harris led an opposition alliance, Team Unity, to victory in Monday’s general elections, capturing seven out of the eleven elected seats in the federal parliament. The other four seats were won by the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (three) and the Nevis Reformation Party (one).
Lawrence said he could not swear in the prime minister-elect until he had a hard copy of the election results from the supervisor of elections, Wingrove George, whose failure on Tuesday to declare the election results prompted widespread reaction in St Kitts and Nevis and from around the region.
Almost 12 hours after polling stations closed on Monday, the state-owned ZIZ radio announced early Tuesday that vote counting had been halted and there would be no more announcements of election results.
George eventually broke his silence later in the day on Tuesday and named Team Unity as the winners.
But while George said that Team Unity had won seven of the 11 seats contested in the general election, he gave no figures, saying that they would be provided later on Tuesday night.
Apparently, the official results had still not been provided to the governor general by Wednesday morning.
However, in a brief statement on Wednesday afternoon, the government information service announced that Harris would be sworn in at a ceremony at Government House at 5 pm, instead of 10 am as originally requested by Harris.
In what seemed to be another post-election fiasco, the widespread regional practice of flying in overseas residents to vote in elections resulted in hundreds of St Kitts and Nevis nationals living overseas being stranded in St Kitts after return charter flights were cancelled.
One charter to New York’s JFK airport was reportedly cancelled due to US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) concerns over the passenger manifest.
The St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party reportedly chartered up to 16 flights from the US and the Caribbean, bringing in more than 2,000 people, representing some 7.5 percent of the votes cast in the 2010 election, the last poll for which figures are available.