(cdc.bb) – Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas Thursday confirmed that he had been ordered by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal to vacate his seat in the Parliament over the issue of a diplomatic passport that had been granted to him by Dominica.
Douglas, speaking at a news conference of his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNL), said that he had been informed by his lawyers that the Court, sitting in St. Lucia had handed down the judgement and that he has no intention of pursuing the matter further.
“I am here to announce that the matter of the diplomatic passport case which has been before the courts for almost two years has finally come to an end. We have been informed by our lawyers that early this morning sitting at the Appeal Court in St. Lucia, the appeal judges gave a ruling that they would uphold the appeal on this matter.
“I must let you know that we are very surprised and we disagree with the judgement,” Douglas told reporters, adding “we are really surprised at this judgement has come in the way it ha.
“However we accept the judgement and we move on definitely to the next level,” he said.
In February last year, Douglas scored a victory in the passport case at the High Court against the Timothy Harris government that sought a declaration that since the election to the National Assembly on February 16, 2015 Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of Dominica, under an acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely, Dominica.
Additionally, the government had also sought a declaration that Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly; an injunction restraining him from taking his seat in the National Assembly; and from performing his functions as a member as well as costs, and other relief as the court may deem just and expedient.
Section 28(1) of the St. Kitts-Nevis Constitution states that a person shall not be qualified to be elected if he is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.
Further, it is stipulated in section 31(3) of the Constitution that an elected member shall vacate his seat if any of the circumstances arise, which would have disqualified him from being elected.
Attorney General Vincent Byron said then he was disappointed in the High Court decision but would respect it.
Douglas told reporters Thursday that following the end of the legal process, he would embark on “the political process of this matter.
”There is no appeal to the Privy Council and so I no longer will serve the people of Constituency Number Six in the Parliament during this term, which is already ended.
In other words, although I will not sit in the Parliament for the next two, three days or weeks, the matter is I, however will contest the next general elections for Constituency Number Six whenever those elections are called.”
Douglas, 67, who served as prime minister in the twin island Federation from 1995-2015, said the the judgement does not preclude him “in any way from seeking re-election by the people of Constituency Number Six.
“My own colleagues only a moment ago have all endorsed what has been the position of the people of Constituency Number Six of the Labour Party that Denzil Llewellyn Douglas will stand again as the candidate.”
Douglas told reporters he expected the coalition Team Unity government to try to use his removal from the Parliament.
“Let us not be fooled, the government I believe will attempt to try to use this judgement to further delay the call for a general election by giving you the impression that it has to call a by-election first. Absolute nonsense.
“And so today we call on the expired government of Timothy Harris, call the general elections now, do not delay one minute more,” Douglas told the news conference.