In his 2023 Budget Statement Gaston Browne claims that the increase of non-government members in Parliament is “because of respect for the rule of law, for democratic principles and for free and fair elections, to which my government was – and remains – fully committed”.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I was elected as the first independent Member of Parliament in this country in spite of the disrespect for the rule of law, democratic principles and free and fair elections, demonstrated by the ABLP leader in his campaign to cancel me from the political life of Antigua and Barbuda.
The 2023 Budget Statement reveals at Page 11 that public spending in election year 2022 was 80 million dollars more than in 2021. And this, as one man sought to bring the nation on board with him to “tomp me in my face” and get rid of me even if it meant mashing up the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party.
The people responded, in a compelling reset of the national agenda by returning their beloved servant-leader to Parliament, with the biggest win of the elections, defeating the ABLP, UPP and DNA candidates combined by 668 votes – a margin of 18 percent.
The election gave the ABLP a one-seat advantage with a decisive loss of the popular vote. And rather than champion a reset in accordance with the will of the people through a government of national unity, it opted to hold on as a minority government overseeing the emergence of a broken, divided nation.
22,559 electors (53%) voted against the ABLP.
20,052 electors (47%) voted for the ABLP
The ABLP under its current leader is in decline. He is becoming increasingly unpopular, and he is dragging the party down with him.
The number of registered voters across Antigua and Barbuda increased by 19% – from 51,258 in 2018 to 60,916 in 2023. Notwithstanding that increase, the number of electors voting for the ABLP decreased by 3,011 or 13% between 2018 and 2023.
The turnout in the St John’s City West constituency, won by ABLP Leader, was the lowest in all 17 constituencies at 64% – 6 percentage points below the national average of 70%.
The number of registered electors in St John’s City West increased by 17% – from 2,616 in 2018 to 3,053 in 2023. Yet votes for ABLP Leader in St Johns City West declined by 11% – from 1,457 in 2018 to 1,295 in 2023.
15 of the 17 ABLP candidates including the Leader got less votes in 2023 than they did in 2018.
By comparison, I got 1,736 votes in 2018 as the ABLP candidate and in 2023 as an independent candidate, I received 2,137 votes – an increase of 401 or 23%.
The ABLP leader handpicked a candidate to replace me and spent more time in St. Peter campaigning against me than he spent in his own constituency. He failed miserably. I defeated the ABLP candidate by 1,238 votes – a margin of 34%.
Contrary to what the ABLP leader would like the people to believe, I am not in the Antigua and Barbuda Parliament because of any unpopular leader’s belief in rule of law and democratic principles.
I am there because the people of St Peter want me to be their voice. I am there because the overwhelming vote of confidence of the people of St Peter ensured that I significantly outperformed all the candidates of the party whose leader trampled my democratic rights and did everything possible to get rid of me.
His unjust actions and excessive campaign spending were spectacularly rejected in St Peter with a strong message that the Constituency stands for God and country and will not be seduced, induced, bullied or intimidated. Constituents will not be imprisoned with blind support of any political party. They will vote as they think fit in the best interest of country, community and family.