‘Cutie’ denies ALP division as key members fail to attend meeting

Attorney General Steadroy "Cutie" Benjamin

Senior Antigua Labour Party member Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said the absence of three parliamentarians from Thursday’s meeting should not be misconstrued as further division within the ranks.

Former Prime Minister Lester Bird, Robin Yearwood and Molwyn Joseph were noticeably absent from the party’s first public meeting under the leadership of recently appointed Gaston Browne.

Benjamin said the no-show should not be misinterpreted, as all members had taken a decision to move forward as a united force.

He said the party was contacted prior to the meeting by some of the absentees.

“Robin Yearwood called the leader of the opposition’s office earlier in the day and indicated that he was ill, and in fact he is still ill so he was unable to attend the session, and I am informed that even though he did not speak at the meeting our former leader Lester Bird was in the area and was close to the meeting,” Benjamin said, without giving a reason for Bird’s failure to turn up.

Benjamin said, although he could not speak for Joseph, he believed there was a valid reason for his absence.

The no-show of the ALP members led to speculation that there was still division within the ranks and that members had left the political leader hanging.

ALP members were divided in November 2012 during the leadership convention in which Browne emerged the winner. Since then a few members have called for unity to move the party forward.

Benjamin has made the assurance that all hands are on deck as the party prepares for general elections constitutionally due in 2014.

“I can give the guarantee that when we next have a public meeting all guns will be firing. The experienced, the non-experienced and the extremely young,” Benjamin added.

The senior member was one of the many who spoke at Thursday’s meeting held at 46 North Street.

During his presentation he called on his colleagues to support Browne.

Benjamin said the political leader, who joined the party in 1999, was introduced to his colleagues as the man who could move the ALP forward, hence support should be given to him as the party prepares for yet another general election.

He said Browne has proven his commitment to the party time and time again.

“We have a duty. We must make sure that we give him our complete and total support because united we stand divided we fall,” Benjamin said.