St. John’s Antigua- After 32 years in opposition, the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) successfully wrestled the reins of the Barbuda Council away from the Barbuda’s People Movement (BPM) yesterday.
ABLP council incumbent Calvin Gore and his colleagues Bernhardt Newton, David Shaw, and Elvis Burton secured their seats on the council.
BPM’s Wade Burton was the only contesting member of his party who was successful in his bid.
Acting Chairman of the ABLP Paul “Chet” Greene said the new ABLP-run council will deliver for the people of Barbuda.
“I think the people of Barbuda really demonstrated their disgust with the failed leadership of the BPM and came out in their numbers today and voted for change. The platform was one of change,” Greene said.
He added that the results last night were indicative of what would happen in the general election. He said Barbuda was now secured for the ABLP come 2014.
Former chairman of the council Kelvin Punter disagreed, however saying that the general election is a different kettle of fish.
“While this may be a pointer, the BPM could still be a dominant force in the general election,” Punter said.
“The people have spoken and this is the way they voted. We just have to pick up the pieces and move on,” he added.
The ABLP now holds six of the 11 council seats with the BPM holding the other five.
Polls closed 6 pm Friday and counting began several minutes after 7. The results of the successful candidates did not arrive until after 1:30 early this morning.
ABLP’s Newton was the most popular candidate securing 531 votes followed by his colleague Gore with 465 votes. ABLP’s Shaw and BPM’s Wade Burton tied for third place with 445 votes. The last member of the council elected Friday was Elvis Burton with 433 votes.
The council election captured the attention of senior Labour Party members, several of whom visited the sister isle this week to show support for the new candidates. Leader of the party MP Gaston Browne, Paul “Chet” Greene, MP Eustace “Teco” Lake, and MP Asot Michael were all present.
BPM representative MP Trevor Walker was also highly visible on the island which he represents in Parliament.
ABLP candidates have been campaigning over the past several months that the BPM has failed to address serious infrastructural and developmental issues faced by Barbudans.
They said the availability of seats in and out of Barbuda has declined to only a nine-seater plane, which is at times unreliable.
The derelict condition of Barbuda’s dock, which the ABLP charges was only addressed on the “eve” of election, has been, for a long time, a contentious matter on the island.
Tied to the transportation issue is the cost-of-living, which the opposition said is 15 to 22 per cent higher than on the mainland, as Barbudans must import all goods through Antigua as they do not have their own port facility.