As a proud son of the soil from humble beginnings in the village of Bolans, I was proud to be nominated as the United Progressive Party (UPP) Candidate to contest the St. Mary’s South Constituency on 28th December 2022.
Three weeks later, in the 18th January 2023 General Election, I was overwhelmingly elected, defeating incumbent Samantha Marshall, the Antigua Labour Party candidate, by 199 votes.
However, on January 31, 2023, I was served with a Petition challenging my right to sit in Parliament as the Representative for St. Mary’s South.
This challenge was premised solely on the grounds that I was disqualified because I was a public servant.
The Petitioner and the Antigua Labour Party first sought to prevent me from being sworn in as a Member of Parliament by seeking an injunction from the Court. This was refused by the Court on February 14, 2023.
Since that date, I have been consumed by the litigation and the media controversy. This has created an unwarranted hindrance to the proper execution of my duties as the representative for the constituency of St. Mary’s South.
The matter is due to be heard by the Court during the first week of July, and while my lawyers believe in the strength of my case, the outcome is entirely in the hands of the trial judge. Whoever loses the case will appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal.
This will delay the final outcome even further, as the appeal will have to be heard and a decision given.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has boasted several times, including in the House of Representatives, that he is confident of an outcome in Marshall’s favour.
The ABLP has returned to their 2009 playbook and are trying to use the courts to circumvent the will of the people.
While in Opposition, the ABLP challenged the election of four United Progressive Party (UPP) members of Parliament. The appeal process took over 12 months and this crippled the UPP’s ability to govern during the appeal process.
It is unfair to the people of St. Mary’s South to have this uncertainty hanging over their heads. This situation needs to be resolved without further delay.
Therefore, my decision, today, June 7, 2023, is that I want this matter to be settled by the people; not by the Court.
The constituents of St. Mary’s South elected me convincingly before, and I am confident that they will do so again in a by-election.
After careful consideration and prayers, I have submitted my letter of resignation to the Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt, KC, informing him of my decision to vacate the seat in Parliament, so that a by-election can be held within the next 120 days, as the law mandates.
This will create conditions for a clean break and reset and allow the people of St. Mary’s South to reaffirm me as their MP.
To allow this matter to drag on for another 12 months will only distract and diminish the desire of constituents in St. Mary’s South.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Defending the choice of the people requires immediate action to show the ABLP administration that we will not allow legal trickery to hold our democracy hostage.
I have the full support of the Leadership of the United Progressive Party, St. Mary’s South Party Branch and my legal team – to whom I am forever indebted for their support, counsel and professionalism.
We are committed to “Defending the People’s Choice”, and we will not allow this undemocratic assault on the will of the people to happen. I want to thank the constituents of St. Mary’s South for their support over the past few months.
Let us head back to the People’s Court to create a future that we all can believe in.
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