Antigua-Barbuda PM calls early elections for March 21
Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced at a political rally on Saturday night that general elections will be held in Antigua and Barbuda on March 21, some 16 months before the constitutionally mandated date.
Parliament will be dissolved on Monday and the election writ will be issued the following day. He did not indicate when nomination day will be.
Browne said he was calling the election more than a year early because he believes his government has performed.
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) leader told supporters that 2018 is the year when many promised and new projects will start both in Antigua and the hurricane-ravaged sister isle of Barbuda.
“What this country needs right now are ability and continuity,” Browne said.
“To make any change would be to reverse the gains that we have made,” he added.
The ABLP leader called on supporters not to take the election for granted and urged them to go out in numbers “to get the vote out on election day.”
Responding to Browne’s announcement, opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) leader Harold Lovell said that the election has been called one year early because “things are not normal” and that the Browne government has “failed to deliver on its manifesto promises.”
A recent CADRES poll has Browne as the most popular leader of a political party and the ABLP comfortably retaining power.
Election Date Announced in Antigua and Candidates Have Just Three Weeks to Woo Electorate
Residents of Antigua and Barbuda now know exactly when they will be asked to elect a new government – and those contesting the poll will have less than a month to convince voters to give them their ‘X’.
After hinting late last week that elections would be held “in coming weeks”, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced March 21 as the date for the polls at a rally of his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) on Saturday.
Parliament is due to be dissolved today and the election writ will be issued tomorrow, Browne told supporters, as he expressed confidence that the ABLP would be victorious over the other political parties and take all the seats in Parliament.
“I am giving them 21 days to give them 17-none,” he declared before giving the election date.
Browne explained that the reason he called the election a year early was to protect the EC$1.5 billion in projects that his government has earmarked.
“Our primary purpose for calling the election early is not about politics, it is about development….We can’t allow the destructive forces to stymie the progress we have made,” he said.
Browne urged candidates not to be complacent, despite the “weakness” of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), and to ensure they hit the campaign trail.
The ABLP, the UPP, the new Democratic National Alliance, and the Antigua and Barbuda True Labour Party will contest the general elections.
The ABLP won 14 seats in the last election in 2014 while the UPP took the other three.
UPP leader Harold Lovell, responding to the election announcement, said the early polls were a sign of a failed ABLP government.
“The truth that all of us outside the Browne circle know is that life is harder than ever after nearly four years of this wicked government,” he said, adding that the administration had failed to deliver on its manifesto promises.
And he urged the electorate to “use this election opportunity to vote wisely, consider what you had yesterday, how much you have lost today and whether you and your children will lose or gain tomorrow”.