PM maintains Asot ‘unlikely’ to be a candidate on ABLP slate in next general election

- Advertisement -

By Kadeem Joseph

As the rift between Asot Michael and factions within the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) widens, the party is determined to replace the sitting St Peter MP as its candidate for the upcoming general election.

During his weekly media outing on Saturday, leader of the ABLP and Prime Minister, Gaston Browne said that based on “certain” actions taken by the party, it is clear to him that Michael is “unlikely” to be the candidate in the next election, noting that Rawdon Turner, who is the party’s preferred pick for the constituency, would be confirmed as the candidate by March.

“Now that doesn’t stop Mr Michael from operating or, let’s say, functioning in his role as the duly elected representative for St Peter,” he said. “That continues until the next general election … and whoever wins the seat — and most likely Turner — will then emerge as the new representative.”

Michael’s future with the party has been in a flux since 2016 after he was detained in London on allegations of having requested bribes from a British investor and — while he was subsequently reinstated — the MP resigned from the Cabinet in 2018 over the allegations.

In 2020, a row between Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the St Peter MP spilled over into the public with Michael accusing the PM of attempting to push him out of the party and Browne pledging that Michael would not run on an another ABLP ticket.

Last Thursday, High Court Judge, Justice Jan Drysdale upheld a claim for an injunction that Michael filed against the ABLP to prevent the party’s disciplinary tribunal from taking action against him over “hostile” behaviour, among other acts the party deemed reproachable.

It was the latest court ruling after Michael filed multiple claims against the party in court, during 2021, in the hopes of securing his position as a candidate for the ABLP.

While Browne acknowledged that the current MP for St Peter may continue to fight the matter in the court, for the PM, the matter is as good as a done deal.

The PM believes that Michael is simply “delaying” possible disciplinary actions against him and trying to “frustrate” the process of selecting a new candidate.

“It’s just a matter of time. We have to allow for due process because, you know, he [Asot Michael] loves to go to court,” Browne added.

He said the pathway is clear for the selection of another candidate but the party must handle the matter correctly.

“We just have to ensure that we do not make any mistakes in the actual selection or confirmation, for that matter, of Turner by the central executive of the party and the screening committee,” Browne explained.

In a recent interview, Mary-Clare Hurst, the General Secretary of the ABLP, told Observer that both Turner and Michael must be seen as being suitable before the party can host a primary to select one of them.

She further explained that the party’s constitution allows for a Suitability Committee to determine who is appropriate to run, by utilising polls, interviews and community feedback.

Michael has, however, dubbed the move another attempt to lock him out of the ABLP’s affairs.

“After running on the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party ticket and winning the seat for four consecutive elections, what ‘Suitability Committee’ is going to tell me I am not suitable and on what basis?” Michael queried.

Political analysts and enthusiasts have been keeping close watch on the conflict between the St Peter MP and the ABLP since the fallout could result in Michael — who has never lost the seat since entering elective politics – could run as an independent candidate and potentially split the Labour vote in the ABLP stronghold constituency.

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here