Kittitians stayed away from the independence parade in Basseterre at the weekend, increasing the political debate of the growing unpopularity of Prime Minister Timothy Harris and his three-party Team Unity administration.

Although the day was declared a public holiday by Governor-General Sir Tapley Seaton on the advice of the prime minister, only several hundred people took their seats at Warner Park Cricket Stadium for a military parade.

Several photos showing the low attendance and the empty seats have been posted on social media by professional and amateur photographers.

September 19 is Independence Day, but the parade had to be cancelled as Hurricane Maria passed south of St Kitts and Nevis.

The following day, September 20 was declared a public holiday.

In a national broadcast on September 23, Dr. Harris announced that the independence was important and that the independence parade, toast and cocktail reception would be held on October 7.

Series of public holidays

The decision to make that Saturday a weekend public holiday appears to have been met with disappointment by both the general public.

A number of businesses decided to remain open.

One resident wrote on Facebook that it was “unsatisfactory [as] the citizens were looking for a week day holiday not a weekend holiday.”

October 7 was the fourth public holiday in three weeks as September 16 was National Heroes Day, September 19 (Independence Day) and September 20 (National Clean-up Day).

In an effort to get the general public to attend the parade, the Team Unity government reportedly used a public address system on Friday across several communities inviting the public to attend.

But on Saturday the poor attendance was evident as the usually well-attended Independence Parade, only attracted less than 300 persons, among them visiting ambassadors and diplomats, the local diplomatic corps and members of the Cabinet.

There were also several empty chairs in the VIP area as it appeared many civil servants also stayed away.

Residents are also questioning the failure of the state-owned ZIZ broadcasting Corporation to carry live television coverage of the parade.

Commentary was live on ZIZ Radio and a video recording was carried on television later in the evening.