ST JOHN’S, Antigua – With general elections constitutionally due in 2014, an apologetic United Progressive Party (UPP) leader and current prime minister Baldwin Spencer beckoned supporters to give the party a third term to address “unfinished business.”
Speaking at the opening of the 9th biennial UPP Convention on Saturday, Spencer stressed the party needs more time to rebuild the nation.
Yesterday, Spencer was elected UPP political leader for the sixth time.
He told party supporters, “I am not suggesting to you that the way forward is going to be easy. I am not going to suggest to you that we have it on a platter. What I can say to you is that with hard work, determination and a burning desire to dedicate ourselves to the task we can do it, we will do it and we must do it.”
Spencer said some of the party’s plans for development during its nine-year tenure were hampered by mistakes made, and the 19-month long elections petition case that started shortly after the party won its second term in office in 2009.
“We didn’t get it all right. Mistakes have been made and when we look back on certain things and ask ourselves if we had to do some of these things again, we would do them differently, but that is all part of the process. We are not perfect,” he said.
The UPP leader urged party stalwarts and other supporters to set aside their differences and focus on what he called “the bigger picture.”
Spencer, who was unchallenged in his bid to lead the party said, “We are on high alert and ready for the battle ahead”, before adding, “We’ll do whatever it takes to keep the party in safe and sane hands.”
Meantime, reacting to the UPP’s plea for a third term, Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leader Gaston Browne, said the ruling party doesn’t deserve another term.
On several occasions, opposition officials have accused the UPP of poor management and said its leaders are responsible for the current financial crisis in Antigua & Barbuda.
Browne said although the labour party is guilty of sin, the UPP has done the most harm to the country and in a very short space of time.
“The UPP didn’t make mistakes, they made blunders. What we are experiencing now is a combination of mangled policies and programmes, missed opportunities, incompetence and corruption,” Browne said yesterday.
He described the UPP leader’s remarks as vacuous, angry, apologetic and devoid of responsibility because “Spencer has blamed everyone – including the global economic crisis, former government, BAICO, Stanford and everyone else for failures of the UPP.”
Browne also noted the change of government from ALP to UPP from 2004 “has been for the worse” and “team labour and Gaston Browne are promising people change for the better and will deliver.”
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)