It is unprecedented and in some places frowned upon as a conflict of interest, but Prime Minister Gaston Browne has intentions to run side by side with his wife on the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party’s next election ticket.
It appears the prime minister is paving the road for his wife, Maria Bird Browne to be confirmed by the St John’s Rural East constituency branch office, currently represented by her uncle Sir Lester Bird.
Even before the June 2014 election, several people were positioning themselves to run on Rural East seat, expecting that Sir Lester, who has had a spate of health issues, would not be fit to run. However, Sir Lester successfully contended that seat.
For the next election, due latest in 2019, Sir Lester will not contest the seat and many political hopefuls have stars in their eyes.
The Prime Minister’s secretary and protégé Senator Shenella Govia has long been rumoured to have interest in the seat. Bird-Browne’s first cousin, Sean Bird, has also expressed interest in running in Rural East on an ABLP ticket in the past; and senator Michael Freeland has been touted as a contender.
It was revealed yesterday however, that the Prime Minister has halted Freeland’s political aspirations – at least as far as the ABLP is concerned – as he is embroiled in a ‘scandal’ regarding his private auctioneering business. The prime minister did not give details on the scandal and he did not relieve Freeland of his senatorial appointment.
Ahead of the last general election, Freeland was defeated when he challenged Dean Jonas in a primary election to represent the St George constituency. Freeland was then hoping to run in the seat which his father Sir Adolphus Freeland, had represented for many years.
Maria Bird Browne, 26, is a graduate of the Christ the King High School and has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has been known to operate in the real estate industry.