Bird advised to step aside
Analyst says veteran Antiguan politician is not helping his party.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Wednesday May 23, 2012 – A prominent regional political analyst has advocated term limits for prime ministers and has advised the veteran leader of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Lester Bird to step down.
“I am in full support of a leader who is in Mr Bird’s age group setting off on a different political adventure that is not in government,” said Peter Wickham, the Barbados-based political analyst who heads the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES).
With the ALP preparing to select candidates based on a polling system, the 74-year-old opposition leader’s name is sure to be included. Bird has already indicated that he would run in the poll constitutionally due in 2014, if it is the people’s will.
Wickham has nevertheless expressed the view that the former prime minister, who led the party to victory in the 1994 and 2000 general elections, is not helping the party by seeking office again.
“I really don’t think it is good for the Antigua Labour Party and I really don’t think it is good for him to be pursuing office at that stage,” Wickham cautioned.
Concerns over Bird’s health are widespread. The former Antigua and Barbuda prime minister hardly stands in Parliament and is known to have had back surgery.
At a recent Labour Day rally, he told party supporters that his ill health was due to the flu.
While acknowledging that “no political constituency will ever reject him once he keeps on coming,” Wickham has urged the veteran politician to “make a decision within himself that he has had enough.”
Meanwhile, the CADRES head holds the view that “a leader in the Caribbean that has served two terms has essentially done his time”.
“I am in full support of term limits on leadership,” Wickham said.