MemberPress ReleasesSt. Kitts and Nevis


(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana)  The Caribbean Community heard with surprise and disappointment the recent announcement by the Premier of Nevis, that the Nevis Administration would be proceeding with the holding of a referendum on 10 August 1998, with a view to seceding from the State of St. Kitts and Nevis. The Community views this development with grave concern.

The Community has steadfastly sought to contribute to the search for an alternative solution, and for that purpose in early 1997 sent a high level mediation mission comprising Sir Shridath Ramphal and Sir Alister McIntyre to Nevis to hold talks with the Premier and other members of the Nevis Administration. Later that year, the Community also cooperated with the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis in establishing a 3-man Constitutional Commission, comprising Sir Fred Phillips, former Governor of St. Kitts and Nevis as Chairman, Mr. Reginald Dumas, former Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Washington and Head of the Public Service, and, Dr. Kenneth Rattray Solicitor General of Jamaica, to explore with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis the constitutional alternatives available for addressing the concerns raised by the Nevis Administration.

The Caribbean Community is particularly aggrieved and disappointed that neither initiative was treated with the seriousness which the situation deserved by the Nevis Administration. The continued refusal of the Nevis Administration to have meaningful dialogue with CARICOM and its Emissaries may pose serious dangers to its future relationships with the Community.

The latest announcement by the Premier, coming as it did just days after the highly acclaimed 25th Anniversary celebrations and 19th Heads of Government Conference concluded in Saint Lucia is a particularly sad blow for the spirit of regionalism. This is especially so in view of the fact that the Conference, at that very Meeting, decided to send a high powered delegation involving Heads of Government, to Nevis to speak directly with the Nevis Administration and their fellow Caribbean brothers and sisters.

The announcement of the referendum for 10 August not only puts in jeopardy this Mission but also denies the people of Nevis, in determining their position, the opportunity of meeting with the Heads of Government delegation, as well as of considering the Report of the Constitutional Commission, due this weekend.

This sudden and untimely call for a Referendum in the 10,000 population island – which incidentally hosted the CARICOM Bureau Meeting in June 1993 – would lead to the people of Nevis having to proceed to make far-reaching and irreversible constitutional decisions, without the benefit of the advice from the consultations with the CARICOM Heads of Government delegation, or of the findings of the Constitutional Commission. This is a source of serious concern not only to Heads of Government of the Community but also to all West Indians of which Nevis is an historical part.

The Community calls on the Premier of Nevis and his Administration to do everything possible to permit greater scope for consideration by the people of Nevis of all the possibilities, in determining their future constitutional arrangements. Anything less would not be in their long-term interest. Moreover, unless this is done, the present course of action could contribute to the undesirable fragmentation of the Caribbean.

The Heads of Government of CARICOM therefore strongly urge the people of Nevis to give careful consideration to all possible options with a view to preserving the historical ties that bind them to the people of St.Kitts and indeed to the people of the entire Caribbean Community.

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