Premier Brantley Discusses Constitutional Reform in the Region as a Panelist for UWI’s Online Town Hall Meeting

The content originally appeared on: ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation

Charlestown, Nevis, April 11, 2022 (NIA) — Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs for St. Kitts and Nevis participated in a robust discussion on constitutional reform in the region as a panelist at the University of the West Indies (UWI) online town hall meeting on Sunday, April 11. 

Mr. Brantley, a UWI and Oxford University-trained Attorney-at-law, is the leader of the incumbent Concerned Citizens Movement Party on Nevis. He was among a panel of other esteemed academics from across the region including Mr. Douglas Mendes, Senior Counsel, Trinidad and Tobago; Senator Hon. Gail Christian, Antigua and Barbuda and Ms. Verla Depeiza, Attorney-at-law, former leader of the Democratic Labour Party. The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles and Dr. Ronnie Yearwood. 

Among the topics discussed were term limits, Executive control, powers of the Prime Minister, and tenets of democracy. 

Premier Brantley addressed the issue of imposing term limits for prime ministers, highlighting that it was not a panacea for preventing excesses of power and influence by persons holding that office. 

“You have some people come into the office sometimes riding a significant mandate from the people, but who over time in terms of their governance and their style, has led to questions being asked. Sometimes because of the awesome power that is reposed, by our interpretation of our constitutions, in the hands of the prime minister, it really means that we are forced to resort to other mechanisms such as term limits to try and provide that check and that balance.  

“For me, I’m not necessarily a proponent of term limits if it’s simply going to be an artificial way to limit, what I think ought to be our main focus, the powers that are given to the Executive, particularly the office of the prime minister, which in my view ought to have some necessary checks and balances built-in. 

“I think if we have that, and if we couple that with strengthening our democrat institutions, ensuring that our elections are free and fair, then that framework will provide its own term limits.” 

Mr. Brantley also expressed his views on the constitutional mechanisms in place for the removal of a sitting prime minister and the need for fostering political education among the populace.

He pointed out that one of the things that threaten democracies in the region is the unfairness of elections, and called on people to reject political candidates who attempt to ‘buy’ their vote. Ultimately, the Premier opined, while the region has demonstrated great maturity and strength in terms of its democratic institutions, there is work yet to be done in ensuring that the people who ought to determine who sit in government, get that free and fair opportunity to do so.  

In invited comments, Premier Brantley told the Department of Information that he was pleased to have been asked to participate in the panel and engage in interesting and timely discussions.  

“I considered it an honour to have been asked by my alma mater UWI to participate in such a distinguished panel and to have had the opportunity to speak to constitutional reform and diverse areas of concern within the democratic structure of St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider CARICOM.”