Residents of Barbuda will soon determine the fate of five seats of the Barbuda Council in a council election and a sixth seat in a by-election on the same day in March.
A March 8, 2017 press release from the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) stated, “This will be taking place on March 27 at the same time as Council Elections.”
The release also stated that the date for the by-election had been set “following the issue of the Writ by His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda.”
However the sister isle’s main opposition party, the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) told OBSERVER media that while it had been anticipating the by-election, it was not aware that a writ had been issued.
BPM General Secretary Mackenzie Frank said, “We haven’t received anything official. I’ve been trying to get in touch with them to find out. Normally there is a 21-day period required after a writ for the by-election. I didn’t know that any writ had been issued.”
Frank added that according to his knowledge ,“the writ is supposed to be in one of the newspapers and in the official gazette”. The document was not published in The Daily Observer.
In any event Frank said that the declaration of the date “is a bit late” as the BPM, both his party and the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) had long been aware that a by-election would need to be held to fill the seat vacated by the BPM’s Saleim Cephas.
Cephas’ seat was declared vacant after he left Barbuda to attend university. Under the Barbuda Local Government Act CAP 44 the seat of a member is declared vacant after the member misses three consecutive Council meetings without leave of the chairman.
Meantime Frank says the BPM will select a candidate to contest the seat. OBSERVER media called the Member of Parliament (MP) for Barbuda Arthur Nibbs for the ABLP’s view on the upcoming by-election, but the calls were unanswered.
Calls to the Chairman of ABEC Nathaniel “Paddy” James and ABEC’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) & information Officer Anne Harewood George were also unanswered.