By Carlena Knight
Political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell has hinted that not every candidate that shows interest in running on the party slate will be selected – but says there is still room for them within the party.
His response comes days after UPP caretaker Gregory Athill raised concerns over the selection process for general election candidates.
“There are many persons who want to make the team but cannot make it, but everybody is included and there is a part for everybody to play,” Lovell said.
“You can play a role as a spokesperson, you can on the Central Executive. You can play a role in so many ways. There is a lot to be done and we are going to win the government. There is a role for everybody who has made the sacrifice to come forward. No one will be left behind. We will ensure that there is a role for everybody.”
Athill, while speaking on the Observer AM show, claimed he had not received an official response by the party leaders on his interest in running on the UPP ticket for the St Paul’s area.
He did however indicate that he received word from the party’s political leader who mentioned that another party member was also showing interest in the same constituency and that they were leaning towards the other individual after a poll was conducted.
Athill questioned the validity of the poll and hinted for the UPP to host a primary to choose a candidate.
Lovell however revealed that several meetings were held with Athill, along with former leader Baldwin Spencer and deputy leader Jamale Pringle, on the decision of where the party would be moving. In fact, he says, upon having had meetings he was surprised to have heard the comments made by his colleague.
He has however informed Athill that they are still open to having him work within the UPP but in the role of spokesperson instead, as there “is a bigger cause ahead”.
Lovell is now calling for unity among UPP members.
“You think the people of Antigua and Barbuda want to constantly be hearing about the internal issues of the UPP?” he said.
“They want to know what the party is going to be doing for this nation. As far as they are concerned, fix that inside and I am very clear about that also. If we have an internal party issue, then it is an internal party issue but there is a tendency unfortunately where some persons, where they are aggrieved in some way, find the microphones of either Observer radio or some other radio station so that the impression is given that there is confusion inside and they are not being treated fairly.
“But that’s not what we are focusing on right now; we are focusing on the people of the country and what people really want to know is, what kind of leadership will the UPP be able to offer.”
Despite the ongoing dilemma Athill has said that, once a due process is conducted, and the other candidate is chosen he will be open to work with the party.
Following his radio appearance this week Athill also took to social media to again cite his concerns regarding the UPP’s constitution and what it says about the process to be followed when two or more members wish to represent the same constituency.
He also claimed that he was labelled a traitor by one of the party’s top executive officials. Athill referred to these comments as an “unwarranted and ill-advised attack”. He is calling on Lovell to take immediate action to end such conduct which he says is “turning off both UPP members and independent voters”.