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St Kitts: Opposition not in agreement with deployment of RSS troops

By CMC

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Dr. Denzil Douglas.

(CMC) – The main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) says it is not in agreement with a decision by the Timothy Harris government to allow for the deployment of members of the Regional Security Services (RSS) in a bid to enhance the safety and security on the twin island Federation.

SKNLP leader and former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has written to the chairman of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves expressing his party’s position on the matter. St. Kitts-Nevis belongs to the nine-member grouping.

In the letter, Douglas said that “since the coming to power of Dr Harris …(there has been) a palpable shift away from our position of democracy towards a dictatorship.

“The opposition is being systematically stifled through the illegal curtailment of our right to speak in parliament, to the denial of access to public spaces such as community centers and the denial of access to the state-owned radio and television,” Douglas said.

In a radio and television broadcast on Sunday night, Prime Minister Harris defended the deployment of the RSS troops telling the nation ‘we are concerned that there must be a reduction in the incidences of criminal acts in our country.

“In this regard, we have over time engaged civil society and our security forces in conversations about what can and should be done,” the Prime Minister said, adding that after consultation with the police high command and other technocrats in the Ministry of National Security , the Cabinet approved a recommendation to invite the RSS.

“The High Command of the Police has advised that the Force would benefit from additional manpower at this time. The shortage of manpower affects the ability of the Police to properly execute their strategic plan and has prompted the call from them for the RSS to augment the number of security personnel on the ground.”

Harris said the RSS forces which started arriving here last week would “continue to arrive into St. Kitts and Nevis in sufficient numbers to assist our ongoing efforts at ensuring citizen safety and security”.

He said that they are already being deployed throughout the communities with local national security personnel, and it is believed that their presence will help local law enforcement to expand the extent of their coverage of the country.

But the Opposition Leader said that the party has understood there are plans to imprison key supporters in the coming weeks.

“We have learnt through our intelligence that the next phase of Dr Harris’ campaign of dictatorship will be the imprisonment of members of the opposition and key opposition supporters,” he said, noting that over the past four months, two senior police officers resident in his district and who performed security details for him had been shot “under unexplained circumstances.

“Two of the persons allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of the police officers have themselves been executed in shootouts, one in which the police was involved and the other under strange circumstances”.

Douglas further alleged that a police officer who had been assisting him was recently arrested and denied bail on the grounds that he was driving with an expired licence. He said the matter will be heard in court on November 29.

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