UPP wants by-election to be a ‘national conversation’ for political change

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

[email protected]

Although the result of the October 24 by-election will not change the government and will only determine the representative for St Mary’s South, the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) believes it will have national implications.

During a press conference yesterday, the party’s candidate Kelvin Simon said the poll will send a political message to the rest of the country.

“This by-election has national implications. The ABLP lost six seats in the last general elections, confirming an appetite for change throughout Antigua and Barbuda.

“Voters in St Mary’s South have already demonstrated their outright dissatisfaction with the ABLP in the January 18 poll and we now have an opportunity to send an even stronger message that the people of St Mary’s South will not be taken for granted,” Simon said.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said at an ABLP political rally in Urlings on Saturday that, for strategic reasons, he chose a date close to October 26, which was the deadline for the by-election to be held.

He revealed that Dwayne George, whose appointment as a Senator lasted two months until he resigned enabling him to run for office, will be appointed to the Ministry of Finance as a Minister of State if he is elected.

The Prime Minister has credited George with overseeing change in the constituency as his party campaigns to potential voters.

Simon rejected this notion, stating that the Prime Minister was previously “quick to announce that constituencies which did not vote for the ABLP would not be on his priority list”.

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UPP’s acting Political Leader Jamale Pringle (left) with the party’s candidate and former St Mary’s South MP Kelvin Simon (centre) (Image taken from the UPP virtual conference livestream)

“His message was clear: that he was not prepared to invest in constituencies that did not vote Labour.

“However, Gaston Browne’s reckless pronouncement was quickly reversed once it was clear that we were headed back to the polls for a by-election,” he said.

“In recent weeks, we have seen desperation set in as the Prime Minister and his party aggressively seek to regain lost support. After nine years of neglect, they are now in a self-serving rush to address a range of issues they shamelessly neglected,” Simon charged.

Meanwhile, the interim UPP Political Leader Jamale Pringle supported his candidate’s statement.

“When you look at the numbers in Parliament, [Browne] does not sit comfortably with a one-seat majority, so he is desperately going after the St Mary’s South constituency and we, the people of the South, cannot allow Gaston Browne and his Labour Party to get through with that seat,” Pringle stated.

The makeup of the House of Representatives is currently nine seats for the ruling ABLP administration; five seats for the United Progressive Party; one seat for the Barbuda People’s Movement which caucuses with the UPP; and one seat for the independent St Peter MP Asot Michael.

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