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HomeNewsLocal NewsCleone Stapleton-Simmonds gives her side of the NRP impasse

Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds gives her side of the NRP impasse

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Hon. Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds, the Elected Representative for Nevis 5 (St. Thomas), in a National Address to the Federation, officially addressed her suspension.

“I was publicly maligned and attacked by key supporters of the Honorable Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge for taking the stance that I took, and the said abuse continues to date without any interference from the Party Leader or the Chairman of the party.”

Stapleton-Simmonds was suspended following a statement from the Nevis Reformation Party’s leader, Hon. Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge, elected representative for Nevis 4 (St. James) on February 10.

The elected representative, in her address, reiterated language in the Federation’s Constitution that speaks to the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition and that the leader needs to command the support of the majority of other elected representatives.

It should be noted that Stapleton-Simmonds has not officially shown her support by signing the letter sent to the Governor-General naming Daniel-Hodge as Leader of the Opposition. Although she has publicly stated her support of the party leader, including in her national address with a caveat.

“At all material times, I have indicated that I fully support Honourable Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge to be the leader of the opposition. However, I did request that I would like to have a say in selecting the nominated member. I remain resolute that this was not a difficult proposal. Some may argue that the leader of the opposition has the right to nominate a senator. However, the member first has to be appointed as Leader of the Opposition. This, my dear citizens is not an absolute right nor entitlement. It requires collaboration, consensus, and compromise. It is a give-and-take situation.”

Stapleton-Simmonds went on to indicate that she was unhappy with the way Daniel-Hodge went about choosing a senator before she officially became the Leader of the Opposition.

“I could not in good conscience support Honourable Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge to be the Leader of the Opposition before the first sitting of parliament on January 19 2023, because of the approach and the stance that she took in relation to the nominated member.”

The suspended deputy leader, in her view of the chronological stream of events that led to the impasse, shared that she expressed her desire to choose the senator several times. However, the suggestions fell on deaf ears.

“On December 29, 2022, the matter was raised again during an executive meeting. I reiterated several times during the meeting that I was willing to support Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge as the leader of the opposition, provided that I was able to choose the senator, and of course, with input and guidance from the party. It was clear to me that the members of the executive either did not understand my proposal or were already ’round-robin’ on the matter, as the members were adamant that the party leader should be the leader of the opposition. The meeting erupted in total chaos as the members were of the view that I was being disloyal to the party. I was accused in the most insulting and inhumane manner of being a traitor and trying to destroy the party.”

Stapleton-Simmonds alleged that there were years of resentment aimed at her from some members of the NRP executive stemming from the leadership battle in 2020 between Daniel-Hodge and Stapleton-Simmonds, the former being victorious.

Other issues outlined in the statement by Stapleton-Simmonds include:

  • NRP Executive voting on who should be the Leader of the Opposition

  • NRP Executive voting on who the appointed Senator would be

  • NRP Chairman being considered for the position of Senator

The Elected Representative for Nevis 5 in her address named Renaldo Bartlette (suggested by Stapleton-Simmonds), and Kurlyn Merchant (suggested by Daniel-Hodge) as the two contenders for the appointment of Senator.

Stapleton-Simmonds did not support Merchant for Senator because she did not know her political allegiance and did not recognise her as an active member of the NRP. She went on to explain her choice of Bartlette as he was an active member and a young man worth the opportunity.

The impasse continued, and Stapleton-Simmonds suggest bringing the matter to the NRP Executive for discussion. The executive met and threw their support behind Daniel-Hodge as the leader. Stapleton-Simmonds was asked to sign the letter to the Governor-General and was informed she was in breach of the NRP’s constitution to support party decisions.

A disciplinary committee was convened and is conducting an investigation. Following the investigation, they will decide on the fate of its deputy leader.

Stapleton-Simmonds says she intends to exercise every legal remedy available to her and thus the turmoil with the NRP continues.

See Stapleton-Simmonds’ full address here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPK8t9yQRVU.

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