Scores join The Movement’s whistle stop

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Over 200 vehicles were counted as part of yesterday’s organised exercise of participatory democracy as people protested against government’s policies and actions through a Whistle Stop exercise.
The ‘good governance’ group known as The Movement chronicled more than 200 participants in packed vehicles and said the membership is satisfied with the turnout.
Cleon Athill, Vice President of the organisation told OBSERVER media, “In my estimation it is a success. I see lots of people. I feel the energy of the people. I feel the resolve of the people. I feel the objective of sending a clear strong message that the people of Antigua & Barbuda will have the government do good by the people of Antigua & Barbuda has been met. We are hoping that it was heard and if not, then we are prepared to do more.”
Athill credited the support to the people of the country being fed up with the “disrespect” of the prime minister towards the nation and alleged corruption under his leadership.
She concluded that the people are ready for a change and even if the government decides to ignore the message sent, at least the greater masses of Antiguans & Barbudans would be “willing and ready to join in the fight for their country”.
Yesterday’s whistle stop was the organisation’s third of its kind since the inception of the group in September 2015 and was by far the biggest one yet, some members said.
The event got off to a late start, by one and half hours, from the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium at 12:30 pm.
Despite inclement weather, many waited in the rain at the entrance at Sir Sidney Walling Highway. Before moving off, the group – which was joined by executive members of the main opposition United Progressive Party and supporters clad in UPP paraphernalia – prayed. President of The Movement, Algernon “Serpent” Watts urged participants to “obey the traffic laws” to ensure the event was a success and incident free.
The police had the authority to arrest any participant in the whistle stop, who decided to divert from the route and lead the entourage elsewhere without permission.
The Movement had applied for the designated route and received the approval of the police who were out in their vehicles and on foot monitoring the event from the start at the Stadium to the end at Seatons at the Seabreeze reception hall.
Chief among the issues protested by the supporters of the event were, according to Athill, “The mangroves [that] are [being] destroyed, persons who are bothered by the politicisation of the police force, those disgusted by the land grab and land swap and the legal enrichment agenda of the PM.”
Athill explained that the objective of the exercise was, “to send a strong message to the political directorate that the people have had enough. Sending a strong message that we expect the people’s business must be the centre of all considerations. Sending a strong message that the business of the state must be done according to the principles of good governance. The political directorate must govern in the best interest of Antigua & Barbuda and listen to the people.”
OBSERVER media was told that people wearing and carrying Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) paraphernalia had gathered in the Villa area in anticipation of the whistle stop but were asked to disperse by the police to avoid any confrontation or hiccups.

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