Chief of Staff Lionel Max Hurst has dismissed a request from the Barbuda Council to separate from Antigua.
The Barbuda Council wrote to the Cabinet on Monday to requesting the start of the process towards separate futures for the two islands.
However, Hurst said today that the Barbuda Council cannot be serious.
“These guys they are not interested in any secession, don’t pay them any mind. They know that they can’t run a country because there aren’t even enough people to form a civil service or a police force and so on,” Hurst said.
“It is just nonsense talk. It’s a nuisance and they want to make themselves a nuisance.”
He said the letter penned by the Barbuda Council Secretary borders on treason.
“The Secretary of the Barbuda Council is treading on treason. I should tell him that and you can be hung for treason,” the Chief of Staff said.
In addressing the matter at Thursday’s post-cabinet briefing, Nicholas described the letter as ‘without merit’ and accused the Council of dwelling on matters of the past.
He acknowledged however, that the management of the environment in Barbuda is one area in which differences exist between the Barbuda Council and the central government.
“The Barbuda Council often assumes that it has equal authority and powers as the central government and until it is willing to accept its subordinate role in the governance of Barbuda we are not going to get very far,” he remarked.
Nicholas holds the view, however, that the tone of the dialogue needs to change. He recalled a cordiality between the two entities once existed in the past.
The information minister is recommending that this be revived as part of efforts to improve the relationship between the Council and the central government.
On August 31st 2020, the Barbuda Council wrote the Secretary of the cabinet of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda expressing dissatisfaction with the treatment meted out by the Gaston Browne led government. It claimed that since the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017 government neglect has intensified.
The council listed a number of grievances including:
- The repeal of the Barbuda Land Act of 2007
- The declaration by the Prime Minister that Barbudans are squatters
- The derogatory name calling by the Prime Minister in reference to Barbudans
- Threats from the Prime Minister to remove the Barbuda Council by way of referendum from the constitution of Antigua and Barbuda
- The fact that no audited statement or accounts has ever been generated by the government for relief items received on behalf of Barbudans after the passage of Hurricane Irma
- The lack of a proper functioning hospital almost three years after Hurricane Irma
- Permission given by the government of Antigua and Barbuda and its agencies to allow PLH to destroy a RAMASAR site with impunity by constructing a golf course on wetlands in the Palmetto Point area
- The sale/assignment of leases to PLH for millions of dollars without the knowledge and consent of the Barbuda Council and the people of Antigua
- Withholding of funds transfer grants, subventions and lease payments from the Barbuda Council which as a result causes the council to fail to meet its financial obligations
- A total abdication of their responsibility to the Primary school in Barbuda, leaving the task to the Barbuda Council to complete.
The letter concludes by saying: “We have therefore concluded that the relationship between Antigua and Barbuda isn’t working. In addition, the fact that Barbuda is being used as a bread basket for Antigua is testament of the use and abuse of our resources without benefit to our people. It is against this backdrop that Barbuda council is requesting of your government to initiate the necessary steps to discuss a separate future for Barbuda and its people.
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