New opposition leader supports term limitations

St. John’s Antigua- Political Leader of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Gaston Browne said he is in full support of term limits for the posts of prime minister and leader of the party.

In what could be perceived as a stab at the long tenure of the Bird family, Browne said he would not be the kind of leader who struggles to hold on to power.

“The idea that I would be one of those individuals that would become drunken by power, or addicted to power, I want to ensure the entire nation that that would never happen,” he said.

Speaking on OBSERVER AM yesterday, Browne said historically, in any country, those who enjoy long tenures at the highest levels of leadership have been susceptible to corruption.

“When it comes to the level of prime minister, there should be leadership diversity and I believe in term limits,” he said.

“As individuals become entrenched in these positions they become insensitive to the needs of the people. They become demigods and you find that they serve themselves and not the people,” Browne added.

He said the Labour Party needs to look at its constitution with intent to amend it to impose term limits on the leader of the party.

“Ideally, I would like to do 10 years, at most 15 years,” Browne noted. “I firmly believe in term limits, and I believe in leadership diversity, not the kind of diversity that will create instability but (would) allow for fresh ideas, more innovative ideas.”

Browne beat his predecessor, Lester Bird, to become the political leader of the ALP at the party convention on November 25. Following Bird’s resignation as leader of the opposition in Parliament on December 1, Browne will officially be sworn into that position on Monday, December 10.

The leader of the party noted that he will not appoint a deputy leader before the general election. Browne said the appointment would be based on merit and not friendship or loyalty.

“The candidate who would have contributed most significantly towards an ALP win will be appointed the deputy,” he said. “I don’t believe it will serve the best purpose of the party or country to appoint one out of political expediency, out of loyalty to me or out of seniority or friendship.”

He said this move is in keeping with his pledge to build a meritocratic society.

Meantime, Browne said under his leadership, there are opportunities for women and youth to serve in the ALP. He pointed to the current crop of Labour Party executive members to make his point.

“You will probably recognise that at the last convention, the delegates elected a very youthful leadership. Practically half of the leadership of the Antigua Labour Party, they are all under the age of 50,” he said.

Browne listed new chairperson of the party, Gail Christian, first vice president Chet Green, and Secretary Marie Claire Hurst as examples of young people in the party executive.

He said the party had to go beyond that, however, to ensure that it continues to attract young bright individuals.

With regard to females in leadership roles, Browne said the executive was comprised of just as many men as women. However, he said he would like to see more women on the ALP ticket at the next election.

“I have to admit, at the level of the candidates, we are trying as hard as possible to ensure there is gender equity, even though we are unlikely to achieve equality, going into the next election,” he said. “I believe we still have the opportunity for maybe one or two more females to serve.”

Gail Christian, Samantha Marshall and Maureen Payne-Hyman are the three women currently running on the ALP ticket.

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