Home The Big Stories Asot Michael defiant after being excluded from proposed ABLP election slate

Asot Michael defiant after being excluded from proposed ABLP election slate

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St Peter MP Asot Michael claims he remains the ABLP’s “legal representative” and “only candidate” for St Peter, despite the outcome of last month’s convention where Rawdon Turner was named his de facto replacement (File photo)

By Orville Williams

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In what was likely his first public statement on the matter since last month’s decision, St Peter MP Asot Michael is adamant that he has not failed in the bid to represent the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) in the next general election.

The embattled MP’s stance follows the party’s convention on July 10, where 17 candidates were endorsed as the slate to contest the election – Michael’s name was absent; ‘replaced’ by Rawdon Turner who the party has been touting as its candidate for St Peter.

According to reports, a three-person suitability committee established by the ABLP considered both Turner and Michael for the candidacy, but voted for Turner as the preferred candidate, with Michael deemed unsuitable by a majority.

The former Tourism Minister and his legal team maintain that – based on court proceedings – the party has no authority to go forward with the official selection of Turner as the candidate, unless that authority has been granted by the court itself.

“I’m not sure that I’m not part of the ticket; I mean there’s a court judgement, there’s a declaration that still stands, and there’s a court order,” Michael insisted during an appearance on the Connecting with Dave Lester Payne show on Wednesday.

The court judgement, dated April 19 this year, states that respondents Mary-Claire Hurst (the ABLP’s General Secretary), Paul Chet Greene (the ABLP’s Chairman) and Gaston Browne (the ABLP’s Political Leader), cannot – whether directly or indirectly – hold out any person to represent St Peter on behalf of the ABLP, who is not selected in accordance with the provisions of the party’s revised constitution.

It further granted an interim declaration that Turner was not selected in accordance with the provisions of the ABLP’s revised constitution, and noted that the interim injunction should stand “until the hearing and determination of this action or until there are fresh actions/proceedings initiated and conducted in accordance with the revised constitution of the [ABLP]”.

As part of his explanation, Michael said although a convention has been held and Turner has been ‘selected’ as its St Peter candidate, the party has yet to head back to the court to apply for the judgement to be set aside.

“Until they do that, they are in contempt of court. They can be put in prison. They’re not above the court. There is a judgement outstanding. We can seek contempt proceedings immediately.

“You cannot disobey a court order and just go to a convention and have a judgement outstanding against you, saying you cannot name any other candidate but Asot Michael,” he exclaimed.

The MP revealed, too, that he has been encouraged by persons, including his legal counsel, to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents following the outcome of the convention – which, on a secondary note, he has referred to as “totally null and void”.

He argued that the party flouted many of its own rules for how conventions should be executed, which further illustrates the apparent illegitimacy of the whole process.

“They were supposed to give notice, 45 or 30 days’ notice. All the names of the delegates – Mr Gaston Browne knows that and Senator Mary-Claire Hurst – [are] supposed to be submitted to a special committee called a credentials committee.

“Suppose somebody wanted to challenge the officers? Suppose someone wanted to challenge for Political Leader, or for Chairman, or for the General Secretary? There was no notice … the whole convention was null and void,” Michael claimed.

On his main issue about the respondents being in contempt of court, Michael said, “if Asot Michael was a different person he would’ve already gone to court, the day after the convention, to start contempt proceedings against them”.

He also claimed that the respondents are aware of this, and simultaneously, the ‘fact’ that he remains the “legal representative and the only candidate for the ABLP [in St Peter], despite what the convention has said”.

To prove his point, Michael pointed out that no party spokesperson has publicly confirmed Turner as the candidate, and blatantly dared the respondents to make that step.

“They are very careful; they have not come out publicly and declared that Rawdon Turner is the definitive [ABLP] candidate for St Peter … they just ratified the 17 candidates.

“I challenge Mr Gaston Browne or Mary-Claire, Mr Paul Chet Greene or Mr ‘Max’ Hurst to publicly put out a statement and name Rawdon Turner as the representative for St Peter – I challenge them to do that,” the MP said.

It is not immediately clear if, or how soon, this controversial matter will be settled ahead of the next general election, which is constitutionally due before the end of the first quarter in 2023.

Michael is, however, in no two minds about his intention to continue to represent the people of St Peter, starting with a victory at the polls.

“Asot Michael will be running in the next general elections. The people of St Peter know [I] will be running, because I’ve been campaigning every single day, house to house.

“Preferably, I’m an ABLP person … but if I have to run independent, I will, and I will win my seat. I will be the first independent candidate to create history in Antigua and Barbuda,” he affirmed.

The ABLP was approached for comment on Michael’s statements. Prime Minister Browne could not be reached but General Secretary Mary-Claire Hurst declined to comment on the basis that she had not heard the MP’s comments.