More calls for PM to break silence

Gaston Browne, PM of Antigua and Barbuda
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There have been continued calls for Prime Minister Gaston Browne to confirm or deny if he penned a WhatsApp message to MP Asot Michael, which was circulated last week and implicated the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in a corrupt act.

In making the call, Ambassador at Large for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, Akaash Maharaj said the PM cannot afford to stay silent.

“I would say at the center of all this is, of course, the prime minister himself who is the apparent author of the text message and the person who is not just the apparent author of this text message, but also the person by the assertions of the text message, holds the evidence that he is citing. In his public statement, the prime minister ‘pleaded the fifth’ but there is no fifth amendment in Antigua and Barbuda. I think it is more than comical that he is referring to an American cliché in responding to a legitimate inquiry by the press in Antigua and Barbuda but silence is no acceptable on the part of the prime minister,” Maharaj stated.

Maharaj said the prime minister must address the matter, whether he wrote the message or not.

“Either he has to say that it was his text message, in which case he has a legal and an ethical obligation to bring forth the evidence to substantiate it, because if he knows about these things and he is not providing the evidence to law enforcement then he is an accomplice,” Maharaj continued.

“In the alternative, if he is not the author of this text message and Mr Michael is lying when he said this text message came from the prime minister, then the prime minister should say that. Silence in the face of such serious allegations cannot be an option for the head of government.”

But the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max” Hurst disclosed on OBSERVER AM on Monday that in last week’s Cabinet meeting, PM Browne said the author of the message is still unknown.

More in tomorrow’s Daily Observer.

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