Athill hints he may run as an independent candidate

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By Carlena Knight

 Former United Progressive Party (UPP) hopeful, Gregory ‘Driftwood’ Athill, said he has no intention of giving up active politics despite his resignation from the party.

Athill, while speaking on Observer AM on Wednesday, vehemently denied claims that he was joining forces with the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), but hinted that he may face the polls as an independent candidate in the upcoming elections.

He said his final decision will take some consideration, explaining that his focus will now be on continuing his work as a community activist.

“I am an independent voice in the community. I am open to anybody that wants to speak to me. I am not saying that I am going to join any party because I know that is one of the things critics are looking for. I am going to be who I am,” he said.

“I like to be that independent voice. If at the end of the day one of the parties identify with me and my team, you never know what can happen but, for now, we are independent and we will continue working in the community that we started over the years,” he said.

The former caretaker of the St Paul constituency told listeners that he tendered his resignation to the party’s branch office last Friday.

He revealed that the resignation letter delivered to the UPP was not representative of him alone, but included 23 other members of the St Paul branch.

In August, Athill who ran on the party’s ticket in the 2018 election, pulled out of the UPP’s St Paul primary just hours before the session was to be held, clearing the way for his first cousin Dr Cleon Athill to be named as the candidate.

Athill has had a rocky road politically during recent months, having been labelled a traitor by a member of the party after he shared his dissatisfaction with the process by which candidates were being selected.

Athill subsequently indicated his intent to resign from the party, citing threats to get rid of him because he has undue influence over the branch’s executive. This, he claimed, occurred during a recent General Council meeting.

Athill said he is now puzzled by the fact his resignation has become such a talking point following all of the past year’s debacles and the verbal mudslinging he received.

“It’s very weird to see that once somebody says they are going to resign from a political institution that you have individuals who will come and attack you. Now if we are continuously having issues and individuals in the hierarchy say ‘leave; you are a traitor, you are an ABLP mole’, why is it now that I decide to resign that it is an issue?” he queried.  

He went on to list a number of persons to include sitting Members of Parliament, EP Chet Greene and Dean Jonas, who were formerly affiliated with the UPP, and questioned if they were labelled traitors for switching sides.

Athill, who in the past has been a member of at least two other political parties, added that although he has decided to sever ties with the UPP, he has no personal gripe with anyone within the body.

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