Dwayne George blames decision to join ABLP on lack of support from long-time opposition allies

Dwayne George (left) will go head to head with his former political ally Kelvin Simon
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By Elesha George

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It remains to be seen whether the career switch of Dwayne George will reap rewards as he prepares for the upcoming by-elections in St Mary’s South.

George was groomed by the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) to represent the constituency for many years, but as of Thursday he will serve as the new caretaker for the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP).

The decision to cross the floor, however, did not come without its share of controversies. Just weeks ago, George was seen publicly endorsing his now contender, the UPP’s Kelvin “Shugy” Simon. This abrupt change of allegiance has left some die-hard UPP supporters alarmed.

“The reaction from the die-hard UPP supporters is alarming, it’s a shock,” George told Observer yesterday. “They won’t just accept my switch but my family is very supportive of it, my family is in my corner; they’re supporting me 100 percent.”

He hopes that the constituents will recognise that voting him in as the Member of Parliament (MP) would be the best move not just for him but for the constituency.

“In order for St Mary’s South to move forward we’re going to need resources in St Mary’s South and the resources for St Mary’s South must be offered by the winning party and the winning party currently is the ABLP,” he said.

He revealed that he met with Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Marshall several months ago, eventually leading to his decision to contest the seat under the ABLP banner.

“We had a series of meetings and as you know the Honourable Gaston Browne is a man that recognises talent and he knows when there is something good going for somebody and he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to seize the moment and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to seize the moment as well,” George explained.

The aspiring MP remains optimistic that his experience, which includes a background in politics before his career in bodybuilding and lecturing at the Antigua State College (ASC), will enable him to improve the infrastructure, social programmes, and overall living standards for the people of the constituency.

“I’ve been cutting down cassie in St Mary’s South for many, many years,” George said, highlighting his familiarity with the local community and its needs.

Addressing his reasons for leaving the opposition party, he said, “I’ve had my challenges with UPP. I came to realise that UPP is a party that doesn’t nurture.

“I supported UPP for many years but as of late UPP has changed. The administration is a different administration,” he stated.

George also cleared rumours about being promised gifts in return for his ABLP allegiance and was adamant that he received no gifts or concessions.

“I didn’t make this move earlier because I didn’t want to make the move out of emotion. I decide to allow all of that to pass and then make a decision.

“I have not received anything from the Antigua Labour Party. As I said they recognise talent. The UPP tend to not recognise their talent,” George added.  

A date for the by-election is yet to be announced but must, by law, take place by early October. The ABLP’s Samantha Marshall bowed out of the race on Thursday, citing family reasons among other things.

For his part, Simon told Observer on Thursday he was unsurprised by the news that his former ally would become his political opponent, adding that he wished George “all the best in his endeavours”.

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