Joseph: Red Cross not involved in Barbuda election talk

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Michael Joseph, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, has flatly denied that the organisation has engaged in discussions to determine whether Barbudans should vote on the island in the upcoming general elections.
Stating that he understands that the issue is currently “quite a contentious one” in Antigua and Barbuda, Joseph stressed: “One of the things I want to make clear off the bat is that the Red Cross as an entity, one of our international principles is that of neutrality. So, we have no political affiliation nor we have any role to play in politics, or in any electoral process whatsoever.”
Joseph was responding to a direct question on the OBSERVER AM programme earlier this week in which the host, Daren Matthew-Ward, had asked him to clarify the role of the Red Cross in the Barbuda voting situation.
“So, I had heard yesterday [Wednesday],” Joseph elaborated, “where the PRO for the electoral commission had stated that in correspondence with … the National Disaster Service (NODS) and Red Cross, they came to the conclusion that Barbuda was not fit to hold elections.
“I’m telling you now that that is false,” he emphasised. “The Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, or no member of the Red Cross, whatsoever, has been in any discussion with NODS, any government entity, any electoral commission and about anything having to do with elections in Barbuda, or anywhere else.
“As a matter of fact, we will never, have never, and will continue to never be a part of any discussions that have anything to do with electoral processes, or [of a] political nature due to the fact that we are an international organisation bound by international law to respect and honour these principles.”
Joseph also stressed that he has already made it clear that the data, which the Red Cross possesses is to be used to assist the organisation in its relief effort and not necessarily to guide any decisions outside of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross relief effort, or those of its collaborating partners with whom it shares the data to help in the relief distribution programme.
He said that he has done his checks and he is assured that no one in the Red Cross distribution team has had any discussion with the electoral commission or any member of NODS about Barbuda on anything concerning elections.
“So we need to make that very clear,” Joseph reiterated. “The Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross is a neutral society, who do not deal with politics or anything of an electoral nature. We work with the government of Antigua and Barbuda as an auxiliary to the state entities and this is what we continue to do – working in aid and in the humanitarian sector.”

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