PM urges unity as ABLP demolishes UPP in general election

Prime Minister Gaston Browne with supporters in the 2018 general elections (file photo)

Prime Minister Gaston Browne Thursday called for unity as his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) was returned to office with an overwhelming victory in Wednesday’s general election.

Preliminary results released by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) showed that the ABLP had won 15 of the 17 seats in the Parliament, while the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) was victorious in the All Saints East and St. Luke’s constituency, where the results there is being contested by the ABLP candidate and former government legislator Colin James, who lost by 10 votes.

Browne elec
ABLP leader and Prime Minister Gaston Browne surrounded by supporters after winning 2018 general election

“This victory is your victory and as they say, the voice of the people if the voice of God,” Browne said in his victory speech during the early hours of Thursday.

“It is true that politics by nature is divisive, but at the same time, whereas we have our differences, I say to you that those differences should not result in any form of permanent division. So we must be able to forgive those who would’ve offended us. There were many offences during this campaign, but at the same time, I say to you that uniting this country is quintessential to its socio-economic development,” Browne said, even as he acknowledged an earlier prediction that the UPP “would have struggled to win a single seat”.

The UPP, which was seeking to regain the government it lost by a 14-3 margin in 2014, suffered heavily with both its leader, Harold Lovell and the deputy, Wilmoth Daniel, a veteran politician failing to win their seats.

Daniel 70, was trounced by Prime Minister Browne in the St. Jon’s City West constituency, polling a mere 565 votes to the ABLP leader’s 1457.

Lovell, who has so far not conceded defeat,  was seeking to regain the St. John’s City East seat, which he lost in 2014 to the incumbent Melford Nicholas of the ABLP.

Nicholas polled 769 votes as against 616 for Lovell and 16 votes for Bruce Goodwin of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

“This is a historic time for the people of Barbuda,” Walker said, noting that this is the first time that a candidate has won the seat by more than 100 seats.

In Wednesday’s general election, the lone seat in Barbuda was won by Trevor Walker of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), who defeated the ABLP’s Arthur Nibbs by more than 100 votes.

“This is a historic time for the people of Barbuda,” Walker said, noting that this is the first time that a candidate has won the seat by more than 100 seats.

“I am very happy tonight. I have made history in so many ways. I have won all the boxes and that has never happened and the people have said to the administration that they are fed up,” he added.

Browne conceded that the ABLP had always known that “Barbuda was a toss-up” adding that he hoped the new representative would work with his administration and would not “stymie the progress “of the island.

Among the victorious ABLP candidates is Asot Michael, the former tourism minister who was sacked from the cabinet after he was arrested by Metropolitan Police in Britain last October.

Browne’s wife, Maria, a newcomer to politics, won the St. John Rural East seat that had been held previously by former prime minister and family member, Sir Lester Bird. She polled 2, 175 votes as against 975 for Trevor Young of the UPP and Vere Cornelius 134 of the newly formed Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

The DNA failed to win a single seat among the 13 it contested with its leader, Joanne Messiah, who had won the All Saints East and St. Luke’s constituency, being able to poll just 106 votes.

The ABLP candidate, Jamale Pringle won the seat polling 1,379 to James’ 1369.

Browne told jubilant supporters that his new administration “would work on the progress we made in the last three and a half years” noting that projects estimated at US$1.5 billion were earmarked for 2018 and a similar figure for 2019.

He told Antigua and Barbudans that it was time now to come together of the country, noting “we must not divide the country over politics”.

“We are not here to gloat about the victory…because we have to bring all the people together,” he said, telling the population that with the many projects to come on stream they should be prepared to make full use of the employment opportunities as well as establishing businesses to provide services.

“We must all give thanks and praise to the most high, without him we would not have been celebrating 14 to 15 seats,” Browne said, declaring Thursday a public holiday to celebrate the occasion.

He said this new term in office is one of empowerment and promised public servants that their pay negotiations would be completed ‘as soon as possible”  and that a system would be established to meet the arrears owed.

“Recognising that you have given me a sacred trust, I will continue to do all in my power to honour it and in so doing I will honour you the people,” Browne said in his victory speech

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  1. This is the character of a TRUE LEADER calling for unity the first thing after victory. Wish we had more leaders like that.

  2. Lovell garn sleep. When he wake up he go realize a nah dream he binna dream. UPP was livin in hope that they would’ve won de election. WACA

  3. We cherish our democracy and the people have spoken. Whatever the differences of the past, congratulations Mr. Browne, let’s hope the dawn of a new day brings better things, and a hand genuinely offered should be taken.

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