St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Demonstrators gathering at Greenlands Pasture on Wednesday afternoon learned that Police had reversed their earlier decision to deny them permission to march through the streets of Basseterre in protest of the over six month delay in the tabling of an Opposition-filed Motion of No Confidence.
Leader of the People's Action Movement Shawn Richards told WINN FM that he had been contacted by a senior member of the police force on Tuesday evening, who invited him to meet with the Commissioner on Wednesday morning. Richards said due to other engagements he was unable to meet with Commissioner C.G. Walwyn until Wednesday afternoon.
The Top Cop he said had informed him that the march would be allowed after all. They were granted permission to use loud speakers and noise makers, but they would not be allowed to march down Church Street where the Government Headquarters is located.
Richards said he was 'comfortable' with that compromise as he had already decided to march whether he had permission or not.
Asked what reason the Commissioner had given for reversing his earlier decision, Richards said, that essentially Mr. Walwyn had indicated that "there had been a miscommunication."
Last week, the Commissioner told WINN FM that he had denied Richards' People's Action Movement permission to march on the requested date (June 26th) as the Police's resources were stretched too thin with the 3-day Music Festival being held the same week.
The People's Action Movement and their Unity partners the People's Labour party cried foul, saying that that their democratic rights were being violated by the denial of permission to hold the demonstration. Richards vowed to march anyway, and said if others followed him, "so be it."
Meantime, the women of the two parties announced that they would stage a prayer walk through the streets of Basseterre on Wednesday to pray for nation and the protection of democracy. Chair of the PAM Cyndie Demming pointed out that authorization was not needed to walk through the streets.
Wednesday afternoon, under heavy skies, even before word circulated that permission had been granted for the protest march, hundreds began to gather on Greenlands Pasture and along Cayon street. They wore mostly the white that the parties had encouraged supporters to wear, and many carried St. Kitts and Nevis flags. A handful of demonstrators held banners with messages to the Prime Minister to bring the Vote of No Confidence, and others declaring their commitment to fight for democracy.
Former St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party stalwarts stood shoulder to shoulder with stalwarts of the People's Action Movement, talking, laughing and some even embracing as they waited for the march to move off. At about 4:45 p.m. accompanied by less than a dozen uniformed police officers, several hundred marchers began their procession along Cayon street, the national flags held aloft creating an undulating sea of red, gold and green above their heads.
Before the march got under, WINN FM spoke to prominent members of the PAM and PLP including Party Leaders Shawn Richards and Timothy Harris, the Chair of the PAM Cyndie Semming, PAM candidate Jonel Powell, former SKNLP Executive Member Mrs. Eugenie Condor and co-founder of Operation Rescue, former SKNLP Minister Dwyer Astaphan.
Click below to hear report and interviews
VIEW MORE PICTURES OF THE MARCH HERE