PM Browne maintains terms of CIP debate with Lovell

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his invitation to debate the Political Leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell remains open, but he said he will not bow to any of Lovell’s demands made as to what should be debated and who would moderate.
Browne was the one who called for the debate to challenge claims Lovell made regarding the management of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) which is being blamed for Antigua & Barbuda losing visa-free access to Canada last week.
Lovell accepted the challenge but added several terms and conditions which would include pushing the debate from July 1 to July 8; to debate additional issues other than the CIP; and for the Tourism Minister Asot Michael to join the debate on OBSERVER Radio’s Snakepit programme.
But Browne said Lovell, “…Has no authority to demand a debate or set the terms and conditions of any debate as an unelected member. He must first win his seat in order to make those demands.  Until such time, he shall remain irrelevant in his destructive pursuit of power at all costs.”
The prime minister said the CIP is the issue currently consuming the thoughts of the nation and he accused Lovell of spreading false information about the programme which he (Browne) wishes to challenge him on and demand he provide evidence to prove the claims.
“As far as I am concerned I extended an offer to Lovell to defend his lies about the CIP. A singular issue was to be discussed with me only. He declined by broadening the issues, included another individual and requested Serpent as the moderator. He missed the opportunity. If he had evidence of mismanagement of the CIP, he should have been happy to seize the opportunity to present the evidence in a debate.  He is evidently running by introducing other issues. He knows that I could destroy him in a debate, literally, on any issue,” he said.
PM Browne also took another swipe at Lovell, as he alleged that the country’s economy was decimated and suffered a 20 per cent decline during Lovell’s tenure as finance minister from 2009 to 2014.
He said given his party’s track record, it is on its way to winning 17 seats and it does not need any validation or relevance of a debate, though he is open to participating.
PM Browne added, “Ordinarily, I would not entertain a non-elected person in a debate. My challenge was very specific. I was available [Saturday] but Harold punked out, evidently a coward who cannot stand by his lies, fake facts and half-truths.”
The country’s leader said he will be travelling this week but would be available at any other time for the debate on any other radio programme as he indicated the Snakepit is not appropriate because “Serpent as a host will be a total pappyshow. Serpent is in the minor league and should stay there … Serpent is for crude and laughter, this is not in his league … He cannot rise to the level of this debate.”
In response to the Prime Minister Algernon “Serpent” Watts posited, “The bigger question would be, ‘Can he?’”

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