Asot Michael dares Gaston Browne to call leadership convention

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By Latrishka Thomas

Antagonism between Member of Parliament for St Peter Asot Michael and Prime Minister Gaston Browne has soared to new heights.

On Saturday, Michael challenged Browne live on air on Observer’s Snakepit programme to call a convention for them to fight for the leadership of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party.

“The guy is ungrateful. He has cemented a position in Antigua; not [a] problem but don’t try to push me out of an institution I was born into. If he is man enough, call a convention – let me challenge him for leadership within the Labour Party,” Michael said, in a display of confidence that the PM would lose.

Michael said if he is ousted from the party, amid recent claims that the ABLP is set to announce a replacement for the seat he has held for 16 years, he will run as an independent candidate.

The Prime Minister, speaking on another radio station that same day, responded saying, “If he thinks that he can abuse myself and others with impunity and run on a Labour party ticket we will see.”

Browne continued, “I would rather be a private citizen than to bring Asot Michael back into any government that I lead….he cannot serve again, neither now or in the future in any government that I lead.”

Prior to that, Browne claimed he had cut ties with Michael – and even pledged to haul him before a disciplinary board.

The St John’s City West MP said, “I completely distance myself from his behaviour and I want to remind him again publicly that that type of rotten behaviour is unacceptable and that he’s not beyond the constitution of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party and that he will be subjected to disciplinary action at some point.

“I personally will take him before the disciplinary tribunal of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party at an appropriate time.”

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks after Michael controversially accused Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh of “corruption and skullduggery”, sparking a backlash from the Bar Association among others.

Speaking on Observer, Michael also addressed the instance of being thrown out of parliament on Friday by Speaker Sir Gerald Watt, referring to it as unfair treatment.

“What Sir Gerald Watt did to me is totally ultra vires to the standing orders. I sent him a letter today,” he told Observer listeners.

His September 26 letter was intended to “de-escalate and not escalate the issue”, Michael explained.

The letter stated that he was “shocked and taken aback” to be removed from the House on Friday.

 “At the time, I was not being disruptive and in fact had just taken my seat,” Michael wrote.

Sir Gerald claimed Michael had abused him and another MP after Thursday’s parliamentary session ended “in a most personal and despicable manner”.

Michael claimed however that the speaker was the one who initiated the conversation which led to his alleged disorderly conduct.

Michael said he did not wish to discuss the truthfulness of the allegations but asked the speaker to examine his removal “in terms of legality, its correctness and its appearance of bias”.

He claimed that the decision was “in excess of [the speaker’s] authority” as provided by standing orders.

Michael vowed to take his seat in parliament today, despite being ordered otherwise.

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