by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Party turmoil continues within the ranks of the Nevis Reformation Party as the leader of the Party, Hon. Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge, elected representative for Nevis 4 (St. James), issued a statement announcing the suspension of Hon. Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds the Elected Representative for Nevis 5 (St. Thomas).
“As [the] leader of this party, therefore, I wish to advise that the Hon. Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds has been conditionally suspended from the institutions of the NRP pending the findings and recommendations of the NRP Disciplinary Committee. I can assure you that as we take this time that God has given us to build our resilience, our integrity, and our togetherness, my NRP remains resolute that we have a mandate to take Nevis in a new direction to overcome the many social, economic and environmental challenges that we face in today’s ever-changing world.” – Hon Dr Daniel-Hodge in a statement on February 10.
In response to the suspension, Stapleton-Simmonds said she was unaware of the basis on which she was suspended.
“I’m not sure what is the basis of the suspension, but you know, that is a matter that will be dealt with in due course. Like I said, we live in a democracy, and we have to all compromise. If it is that it’s two persons who have to make this decision at the end of the day, I believe that you know, we must expect and we must expect conduct and behaviour and sensible action and mature action from both persons, not just one person. Like I said, there’s no absolute rule. We live in a democracy. We are guided by the constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis. And I believe what the makers of that constitution when they were writing it, they understood that there will always be situations in politics, where you have to give, and you have to take.” – Hon. Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds on the February 10 broadcast of Issues on Freedom FM.
What has caused this turn of events?
There were musings that Stapleton-Simmonds was making a move for the appointment of the leader of the opposition over the leader of the party. However, Stapleton-Simmonds, in an interview with a regional media house, said the situation is not about the leader of the opposition but rather about who should be the appointed senator for NRP in the Nevis Island Assembly.
The 2023 budget presentation for the Nevis Island Administration is expected on February 20, and the leader of the opposition has yet to be officially installed.
Daniel-Hodge explained in her statement that NRP’s executive committee decided to name the leader of the party as the opposition leader on December 22. Stapleton-Simmonds has not yet given support to Daniel-Hodge by signing the letter addressed to the Governor-General to execute the appointment of the opposition leader.
Stapleton-Simmonds emphasised that support for the leader should be commanded and not bullied.
“At the end of the day, there is no absolute rule in a democracy; okay, we cannot bully people into making decisions; we have to be able to persuade people. Section 58 clearly states that the Governor-General is guided by the person who commands the support of the other elected representatives. You have to command the support. The support should not be bullied; it is not demanded. You have to command it, and sometimes in this life, we have to, as politicians, as elected representatives, as representatives of the people – at the end of the day, this is all about people – we have to be able to compromise. We live in a society where we have to give and take, and we have to have understanding. And that is what is important in this whole process. It is a test of the demonstration of how willing people are to empathise and to compromise with other persons in a democratic society.”
People have begun to question the political future of Stapleton-Simmonds, even more now following her suspension from the NRP.
Political analyst Peter Wickham recently indicated that he feels Stapleton Simmonds’ political career is over due to the current situation.
NRP’s leader, Hon. Dr Janice Daniel-Hodge is the Elected Representative for Nevis 4 (St. James) and Hon. Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds is the Elected Representative for Nevis 5 (St. Thomas) following the December 2022 Nevis Island Assembly Elections.
Following this suspension, there will be further investigation by the party’s disciplinary committee to determine the way forward for Hon. Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds.