The Antigua Barbuda Labour Party is today celebrating victory at the polls in the biennial Barbuda Council elections after winning the two seats it needed out of the six in a process which one election observer said may have involved inducements; a claim rejected by the ABLP.
The results, which were declared after 4 am, came as no surprise to the ABLP which spent the last few days campaigning on the ground arguably, more effectively, according to many Barbudans, than the Barbuda People’s Movement and its ally, the United Progressive Party (UPP).
“We came into the election wanting two seats and we have done just that, we await the outcome of the by-election,” ABLP Chairman EP Chet Greene told OBSERVER media after the count of the fourth ballot box.
This time around, for the council elections, the five candidates with the most votes gained a seat on the Council.
There was mixed reaction on the ground among the electorate, but the overpowering feeling expressed was one of satisfaction that the result was what they wanted and expected.
Earlier in the day when OBSERVER media canvassed the ground, the majority of those who engaged in the interview said they wanted “development and jobs” and would vote for the party they believe would deliver.
One voter said development is needed on Barbuda “but not to the detriment of the people” and their way of life.
Patron Collins, a professional athlete said while the sister island has a lot of undeveloped land, it is worth more than money and residents on the island should utilise it to help themselves rather than “wait for an investor to come and put something down for us to make money”.
Another resident, who identified himself as Chief of Staff, explained, “We want development but not when you wait two or three weeks before an election to decide to start road works and a number of other plans, what happened to the years prior?” Her comment was directed to the ABLP administration which also controls central government and only recently released funds to start roadworks on the sister-isle.
A female voter also said, “The Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party has brought several programmes to the table which I feel very good about and I want to continue that process by giving them another chance on the council.”
None spoke of the rumoured inducements of gifts and cash allegedly given to win support for the candidates on the ABLP side. It has been rumoured at prior elections that this occurred, but the General Secretary of the Free and Fair Elections League George Rick James said although he heard of the efforts to buy support, he couldn’t corroborate such claims.
James, who was an official election observer, said he noticed a “heavy” presence of the ABLP officials campaigning on the ground, but made no mention, as pointed out by ABLP Chairman EP Chet Greene, that the BPM and UPP allies were also campaigning and holding meetings in Codrington.
He also said he observed two ABLP members of parliament – Greene and Asot Michael – attempting to enter the room where the ballots were being counted last night and he explained that he and the elections clerks advised them they could not enter the room as it was contrary to laws governing the process.
Other sources on the ground confirmed MP Greene entered the room but left soon after, while MP Michael allegedly left “cussing” when he couldn’t remain inside.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)