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Desire for unity still relevant for Caribbean countries

By Glen Bart, From MyVueNews

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 7th January, 2019 ( – Sir Dennis Byron, the immediate past  president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, focused his address, as guest speaker at the Prime Minister’s New Year’s Gala, on the concept of unity in the political landscape of St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider Caribbean.

In his 5th December address at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, Sir Dennis outlined several examples of the English speaking Caribbean courtship with unity at various levels including unification in the defunct West Indies Federation and CARIFTA, as well as the existing regional Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

In addition, he pointed to institutional concepts of unity, including the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Caribbean Court of Justice, as well as the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).

As such, he said the concept of unity was not recent to the Caribbean, and that its failures, especially of the West Indies Federation, have not subjugated the desire of the people of the region to pursue unity and its benefits.

This desire for working together at the regional level has had influence at the domestic level of Caribbean states, most notable in the political realm. According to Sir Dennis, the idea of political unity is especially desired because of the deep political tribalism that exists in almost all countries of the Caribbean.

He said, “Therefore even in domestic politics the idea of unity and merging of various political groupings seems to provide an antidote to this tribalism. Coalition formation or building is a process of organizing parties collectively in pursuit of a common goal.”

However, he noted that workable political unity will only come by the concept of accountability through good governance, and that such political leadership must be answerable to the people.

Such political governance, unity through political coalitions, can be demonstrated in several Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, as well as St. Kitts and Nevis.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, Sir Dennis pointed to political coalition between the late Robert Bradshaw led Labour Party and Nevis’ Eugene Walwyn, who served as attorney general. Then there was the political coalition between the Kennedy Simmonds led People’s Action Movement and the advocates of Nevis’ secession from St. Kitts, the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) led by the late Simeon Daniel. This turned out to be a coalition that lasted 15 years.

Added to those is the current political coalition between the People’s Action Movement, the Concerned Citizens Movement and the People’s Labour Party, a coalition that is defined as Team Unity.

Sir Denis stated, “With this vision, where the interests of each party were subordinated to the perceived national interests, these former political rivals joined forces.”

He also noted that the pre-elections established unity, by Team Unity, is perhaps a model that will work in other Caribbean countries.

Sir Dennis said, “The success of Unity is that it only works with compromise and accountability so that in the end the concept is greater the individuals who comprise it. That is the genius of the concept and why it could be a model that would help to improve the quality of life in the Caribbean Region.”

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