Antigua prepares for general elections, requests CARICOM observers

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Friday February 28, 2014, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda has asked the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to send a mission to observe the general election likely to be held next month.

The Baldwin Spencer administration, which is seeking a third consecutive term in office, has requested that the regional grouping mount a CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission (CEOM) “when the date is announced and which is at least 21 days before the actual day of polls”.

Prime Minister Spencer has not yet named the date for the poll, but earlier this month told supporters of the United Progressive Party (UPP) to keep March 15 as an important date, hinting that the polls could come around that time.

He later told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) the reference to March 15 was intended to get people sensitised to the fact that an election was imminent “and in the planning process I just wanted to set the stage for the people of Antigua and Barbuda to place certain dates in mind.

“The 15th of March is the date something will certainly happen in Antigua and Barbuda,” he said, adding that the announcement with respect to the actual election day “is still in my back pocket”.

Spencer said he was confident that the electorate would return his United Progressive Party (UPP) back into office, saying “we believe we have kept faith with the people of Antigua and Barbuda and we have done the greatest good for the greatest number since we took office in 2004”.

But Gaston Browne, who is leading the main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) into the general election, told CMC that the UPP government had over the past few years “actually dismantled the economy” and that the island had lost approximately 25 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

“Today you have unemployment in excess of 25 per cent and the poverty level in excess of 35 per cent. So in essence they have destroyed the country and I think Antiguans and Barbudans are desirous of change and I believe they have every confidence that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party will make a difference in their lives”.

Browne said voters could look forward to a transformation of leadership as the new government seeks to revive an ailing economy. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)