PM Douglas celebrates 15 years as Prime Minister

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (CUOPM) – Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas on Sunday celebrated the 15th Anniversary of his appointment as the Second Prime Minister of the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. He was appointed Prime Minister on July 4th 1995. The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party also celebrates 15 years in government.

“I have had the distinct honour of being a member of this forum for the last fifteen years. In fact today makes it exactly 15 years since I have been Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and my party’s victory of January 25, 2010 marked the start of the 4th Consecutive time of my Prime Ministership and the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Government,” said Dr. Douglas at the opening ceremony of the 31st Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Sunday.

He told hundreds of invited guests including Governor General, the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, Host and Chairman of CARICOM, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Hon. Bruce Golding and colleague Heads that over the 15 years as a member of the CARICOM Heads of Government, he has “experienced some of our greatest challenges, but I have seen very significant achievements in response to these challenges.”

“Conferring, planning, and working with you on matters of import to our region has always been a source of great collaborative energy and productivity.  As a result, these Heads of Government meetings have always represented highly valued opportunities for shared insights and analyses,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who expressed gratitude to the people of St. Kitts & Nevis, who on January 25th of this year, “very warmly arranged for my now 15-year collaboration with you, as CARICOM Heads of Government, to continue.”

Prime Minister Douglas also welcomed new colleagues attending the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting since the last session.

“The people of Anguilla, Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname have been to the polls as well, and so I take this opportunity to once again to express, on behalf of the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis, and also on my own behalf, sincere congratulations and best wishes to the Honorable Reuben Meade (Montserrat), Honourable Hubert Hughes (Anguilla), and the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.  I know that we all wish you, your Governments, and the people you now lead, the very best,” said Dr. Douglas, who is also the most senior Head of Government of the Caribbean Community.

Denzil Llewellyn Douglas was born into modest circumstances in the St. Kitts village of St. Paul’s in 1953. The son of a tailor who was also a part-time checker in the sugar industry during the harvesting season, Denzil lost his mother very early in life. Despite that set-back however, he was raised in a loving family with ample books and a great respect for learning.

A gifted student, Denzil Douglas excelled in elementary and secondary school and attended the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, Barbados on a scholarship. After earning a BSc with honors in Biochemistry in 1977, he went on to medical school at the UWI Mona Campus, Jamaica. Following his internship at the Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad, Dr. Douglas opened a private family medicine practice in Basseterre, Old Road and in St. Paul’s, St. Kitts in 1986. Before the decade was out, he was elected President of the St. Kitts-Nevis Medical Association.

As a young professional, Dr. Denzil Douglas understood that politics was the way to bring about change for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and that the St. Kitts- Nevis Labour Party was the Party of the ordinary working people. Despite his success, Dr. Douglas has never forgotten where he comes from or the people who are the backbone and strength of the twin-island Federation.

In 1979, he became the first Young Labour representative to sit as a full member of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) National Executive. In 1987 he was elected Deputy Chairman of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. Following the General Elections in 1989, he was elected Member of Parliament for St. Christopher # 6 and appointed Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  In that same year he was elected National Political Leader of the St. Kitts- Nevis Labour Party, a post he still holds having been re-elected every year at the Party’s National Conference.

Between 1989 and 1995, he re-organized and re-energized the Labour Party into the formidable democratic movement that he led to power in 1995. Appointed Prime Minister, he again won the confidence and support of the voters in general elections in January 2010 for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term.

Dr. Douglas was reappointed Prime Minister also having won general elections in 2000 and 2004. In addition to his responsibilities as Prime Minister, Dr. Douglas holds the Ministerial portfolios of Finance and Sustainable Development.

One of the Caribbean region’s senior statesmen, Dr. Douglas assumed for the second time, the Chairmanship of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in July 2006 and has for some time been CARICOM’s spokesman on HIV/AIDS, other related health matters and Human Resource Development. He also plays an active leadership role in many regional and international organizations including the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Caribbean Development Bank, Association of Caribbean States, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Commonwealth, United Nations, and Small States Forum of the World Bank.

For his outstanding leadership and his tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for all Caribbean peoples, Dr. Denzil Douglas has received many honors and accolades including the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Peace Award, the Order of the Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon from the Republic of China on Taiwan, and the Order of the Liberator (First Class) from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. His contributions in the field of HIV/AIDS have been recognized by US President George W. Bush, former US President Bill Clinton, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His regional leadership role was lauded by the United States Congressional Black Caucus and the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies presented him with its Legacy Award.

In January 2007, Prime Minister Douglas was the recipient of the Global Award at the 15th Annual Trumpet Awards at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada.

In January 2010 he was nominated as the Alumnus of the month on the occasion of his re-election on January 25th 2010 as Prime Minister for a historic fourth consecutive term and in recognition of his contribution to the social and economic development of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Photo – Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas (right) takes the Oath of Office as Prime Minister for a fourth consecutive time on January 26th 2010. . The oath is administered by Resident Judge, His Lordship Mr. Justice Frances Belle at Government House. (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

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