A second set of parliamentarians (MP’s) stood up in Parliament yesterday and gave their views on the proposed separation of Barbuda from the unitary State of Antigua and Barbuda.
All six of the MP’s were vehemently opposed to the resolution being tabled, joining the prime minister and three others who on Thursday rejected secession.
Minister of Agriculture and Barbuda Affairs Samantha Marshall was emphatic about the continued unification of the twin island.
“One man, one man and a disingenuous Council cannot determine the future of a unitary state,” she explained referring to Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker – who was absent at yesterday’s sitting – and the Barbuda Council.
She said that Walker, who is the only parliamentarian who has supported the resolution thus far, did not make any clear arguments to support his position.
“I heard the same old bitter stories and bile, and I am tired of hearing the same old thing from the member for Barbuda,” she remarked.
The Barbuda affairs minister further stated that Walker is using the resolution as an attempt to “remain the king amongst them.”
Festivals Minister Daryl Matthew also made some strong statements.
He suggested that the request for a separate future is merely “a land grab and a power grab on the part of the Barbuda Council and its member, Mr Trevor Walker.”
“How can you with a good conscience present any sort of good documentation requesting a separation,” he rhetorically asked the missing MP.
Matthew, upon iterating his stance against the resolution said: “I will continue to do everything in my power to defend this unitary state.”
The other MP’s who presented against the resolution were Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Fernandez, Minister of Trade Chet Greene, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas and Minister of Works Lennox Weston.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne was the one who presented the resolution before the House of Representatives.
Browne told Barbuda MP Trevor Walker, that he would lose whether or not he voted for the resolution.
He said that his government is the true victim in this situation.
“Whenever the UPP is in government, which is not very often, they go quiet, but as soon as the Labour Party takes over the governance of the country, they become obstreperous, totally uncooperative and just create unnecessary confusion and chaos. They don’t seek any form of consultation with the central government, they try to exercise power they do not have, they behave as though they are the exclusive authority on matters relating to Barbuda and that the Cabinet is redundant when they have no such constitution or legal right,” Browne stated.
In his presentation, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle, blamed the “unkind words” and “vicious actions” of the prime minister, for Barbuda wanting to leave the unitary state.
“I understand and I sympathise with the position Barbuda has taken because the prime minister has done everything in his power to make Barbudans feel unwanted and to dispossess them of what they hold dear, which is their land and their dignity. He has used words which no leader who believes in unity, equality and respect would ever use to those he considers his people,” Pringle said.
Pringle, however, did not support the resolution for Barbuda to leave the twin-island state.
On the other hand, Walker supported the resolution and maintained that even if the majority voted against the resolution, the fight would not end there.
“I had to be calling the accountant general up to today, saying, ‘Listen we have only received one hundred thousand dollars for the whole month, next week is month-end and I can’t get a dime’ but I must sit in this parliament and pretend everything is honky-dorey and all we need to do is talk. Mr Speaker, it’s more than talk, we have to walk the walk. It can’t be right, people must have a conscience in this country. Have a conscience because we are hurting. We see people come in, getting rich, deep pockets. Caucasian people driving all sorts of Suburbans, flying in sea planes and the Barbudan people can’t get paid?” Walker retorted.
Walker said five elections, including the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) referendum, demonstrated clearly that Barbudan people are not satisfied with the direction in which the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) and the Prime Minister are steering the island.
Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin and Minister of Public Ultilities Robin Yearwood also spoke in favour of remaining a unitary state.
According to the Antigua and Barbuda constitution, Barbuda would require a two-thirds majority, by way of referendum, before being allowed to separate from Antigua.
Debate on the resolution will continue on Monday.