Now that the General Elections are over, the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party and the Leader Mr Gaston Browne need to be congratulated on their resounding win over the Baldwin Spencer-led United Progressive Party (UPP).
The Antigua Electoral Commission also needs to be commended for the proficient manner in which it executed the elections. As one who was a national observer and team leader for the Free and Fair Elections League, I must posit that it was obvious that the staff was extremely well drilled and they did an excellent job.
Congratulations are also due to the voters for their exemplary conduct, since there was no disparaging behaviour throughout the day. In some instances, the presiding officers described the behaviour as one of comradeship, notwithstanding which side of the political divide persons were on. This indeed shows some level-headedness and our sense of maturity.
Antigua is a democratic country and we have the right to exercise our franchise through voting for a government of our choice. Now that the people have spoken, their wishes need to be accepted by all. Nation building involves all people working together for the betterment of our beloved and beautiful country. There should not be any reprisals and or victimisation meted out to those who did not support the victorious party.
Our prime minister and his government must now start the rebuilding process, which they spoke about during their campaigns. It must also be borne in mind that healing of the nation is paramount going forward.
The divisiveness between non-nationals and indigenous Antiguans need to be addressed as it is generally perceived that Antiguans are not respected by these persons and their sought after vote is of concern. Some see them as political pawns to expedite a process to destabilise and create antagonism and the perception is that we Antiguans are constantly being marginalised in the country of our birth.
Our prime minister must also be aware of those promises which he made and must assiduously work towards fulfilling them to prevent people from becoming agitated. It will be interesting to see the urgency with which this is done.
I must, however, state that if elections in Antigua & Barbuda are going to be free and fair, then the question of campaign financing must be dealt with, with some measure of urgency. The bribery laws must also be strengthened.
The reality is that money and other material things can influence the results of elections. There are those who are vulnerable and like Judas and Esau can sell themselves for a morsel of meat.