Barbuda official accuses PM of aggravating rift between sister islands

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By Carlena Knight

Deputy Chairman of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) Mackenzie Frank is calling out Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his administration for what he claims is longstanding complacency regarding the affairs of the Barbudan people.

Frank accused Browne of focusing more on pushing an apparent agenda of severing ties with the sister island than dealing with ongoing problems after devastating Hurricane Irma.

His comments followed the postponement of the handing over ceremony of Barbuda’s lone hospital to the Barbuda Council which had been scheduled for last week.

Frank said there had been no official word on when the ceremony for the Hanna Thomas Hospital will take place as there are some matters that have still not been addressed regarding the structure.

“This is one of the problems that continues to occur. Things have been changed left, right and centre and the chair of the committee is very frustrated that they are not getting the right messages when it comes to decisions,” he told Observer radio.

“This is all part of the problems that have been ongoing in this whole situation. This is three years later we are talking about and some of these things that should have been dealt with right at the start of the returning of the Barbudans to Barbuda are still pending,” Frank proclaimed.

“The prime minister needs to begin to concentrate on these issues that are for the basic health of the people of Barbuda rather than the type of things he has been raising every other week about Barbuda, threatening to arrest the elected member of parliament for Barbuda. I mean what kind of nonsense is that?”

Frank, who has been involved in politics for over 20 years, noted that the rift between the two islands is not a new phenomenon, claiming Antigua sees Barbudans as second-class citizens. He said the two isles had been battling in court over multiple issues since 1985, the most recent being the Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) resort development.

 It raises the question, he said, if the relationship between the two islands could ever be repaired. Frank said he believed they should go their separate ways.

“In my view, the Barbudan people are right to ask for a separate future because you cannot continue in a relationship where there is domestic violence,” he said.

“It is important that solutions are sought constitutionally rather than these continuous up and down threats and all kind of insinuations about our state in the union of Antigua and Barbuda.”

Regarding the PLH project, Frank dispelled claims that Barbudan officials had been opposed to it from the start. He said they had in fact been amenable to the development in Irma’s wake, due to the welcome financial boost it would bring. He said it was only after the environmental implications were brought to light that views changed.

He accused the Gaston Browne-led administration of fanning the flames of the dispute and painting a false picture to the public.

A government spokesman told Observer that the delay in handing over the Hanna Thomas Hospital to the Barbuda Council was due to a wait for several pieces of essential equipment.

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