Prime Minister Browne disappointed at outcome of referendum on CCJ


Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed his “utmost disappointment” at the failure of of his administration to get voters to support the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Antigua and Barbuda’s final court.

In a referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) showed that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote secured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

Antigua and Barbuda’s final court is the London-based Privy Council and the island had hoped to join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have so far made the CCJ their final court.

The CCJ also operates as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

“We knew that getting 67 per cent of the votes was an extremely daunting task, practically un-achievable without the support of the main opposition party,’ Prime Minister Browne said.

“The support of the opposition was very important to mitigate against the natural inclination of electors to vote no in a referendum and this is a point that I raised during the initial consultation (on the CCJ) ,” he added.

But the leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell said that the results of the referendum should be viewed as a personal assessment of Prime Minister Browne’ stewardship.

Harold Lovell

“This was really a referendum about the prime minister….In Antigua it was a referendum about Gaston Browne and he was not able to bring out not more than 8,000 people …even though they were talking about he is going to command his people to do this and do that”

Lovell said that of the 20,000 odd people who voted for the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) in the last general election held earlier this year, “only 8,000 came out and yet he is now blaming the United Progressive Party.

“Our position was take the politics out, let us build a coalition of people and listen to people and go forward with that approach. Cursing people,…calling people  backward, stupid, dunce that type iif thing, that’s not how you build a successful coalition,” Lovell said.

He said the UPP would continue to support constitutional reform “and we believe this is a time when we must listen to what people are saying”.

But Prime Minister Browne told reporters that the opposition had succeeding in undermining the desire to replace the Privy Council accusing them of spreading lies and instilling fear in the population.

Browne said the results showed that “no one” won in the end.

“The outcome even though disappointing was not surprising. I am satisfied that my government discharged its responsibility by making the option available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda to make justice available to all at the Apex level and to bring our final court to the Caribbean.

“My biggest disappointment is the impact of this failure on future constitutional reforms. It is unlikely that my government will, in the circumstances and in the absence of political maturity and magnanimity pursue any further constitutional reform in the near future,” Browne said.

ABEC said that 33.5 per cent of the electorate voted in the referendum and that the “No” vote had secured 52.04 per cent with the “Yes” vote gathering 47.96 per cent.

The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, said while he is disappointed in the results “the people have spoken and we accept the verdict.

“The result is a result that demonstrates democracy. The people have spoken and certainly we will need to reflect on the loss. However, I am of the firm conviction that as we move towards consolidation of the regional integration movement, our people whether in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada or Antigua, the greater appreciation of the institutions that we have created will become even more appreciated, celebrated in order for us to find our place in the global community.”

Henry told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that it is imperative for the region to “build our Caribbean institutions, no matter the struggles, no matter the challenges and no matter the defeats.

“Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, whose organisation had predicted that the “yes” vote would have received the necessary support to take the island into the CCJ, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“I am not Antiguan but I am disappointed for Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean. I think this is an unfortunate result equally so because the same thing was replicated in Grenada (Tuesday) and I really do hope that in the future we can get back on track.

“But the most I can say is that I am disappointed. I think this is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have created history and to set a course of a circle of development and ultimately the population said no,” he added.

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  1. This is false news.

    The island never “Hoped” in joining the CCJ. It was the politicians (namely Gaston Browne and Cutie) and their learned friends and concubines that “hoped” the people of Antigua would have joined the CCJ.

    So please Antiguanews get it right. The Island nation never hoped for it, not once did any layman on the streets or in any discussion said let us vote “YES”. Again, it was the politicians in question that went on air waves and said let us join. The island nation is not the politicians nor is the politicians the island nation. Please rewrite your news above.

    • When political leaders speak they speak on behalf of the nation. That is why we elect them. Whether you like it or not. The PM is the PM for the entire country not just for ABLP supporters. So when he speaks sorry for you if you do not agree with him

      • @Sideline- Please do not waste your time with these Idiots.. Clearly they are Ignorant and do not even know when they are fighting against themselves.. I would really like to know what victory they have attained last night?

    • You’re so right. The people never went to the government or the politicians telling or demanding them to let us make the CCJ as our final apex court. That was all of Gaston and Cutie doing. The government and the politicians need to remember they work for us not we work for them.

      • I am really liking these comments coming from some poor people..SMH. We are indeed very ignorant in this nation.. Last night results did nothing to stop the government going forward with it’s agenda for this nation,the government is still in office..What it did was put a halt to any possibility of the poor man attaining Justice of a higher court.. Falls are now laughing at their own Folly.

      • And you have to remember they are elected to run the affairs of the country on our behalf and do not need to come to you with each and every issue. This fortunately is an issue that they need our approval and that is exactly what they were doing.
        This stupidity to think that politician when elected need to come back to the electorate for everything they do on our behalf is foolish. That is not how the system of government works. When next election you can vote them out

    • I agree with you on this one, the citizens of Antigua clearly do not all these weird Caribbean institutions being forced on us. It is like we are exchanging UK colonialism for Caribbean colonialism.

      Real independence for Antigua and Barbuda means having our own Antigua and Barbuda Supreme Court (ABSC), as a final court of appeal. What is so difficult about that idea?

      • The competition is stiff between you and Duncy Bat.

        I believe you will capture the crown Duncy Bat by your next blog.

  2. The biggest mistake was in POLITICIZING the issue. The politicians should have stayed out of it. They overshadowed the real issue and the people became highly suspicious and distrusting of them. The YES vote that they wanted so badly suffered as a result. Let this be a lesson.

  3. When you ask someone their opinion, be prepared for the answer either way.

    Asking a question and expecting or insisting on a particular answer is not sensible.

  4. Well by all indications last night Mr PM ain’t you along that appeared disappointed. He who had looked into his crystal ball and predicted a yes victory appeared just as disappointed when he appeared on national TV last night. I don’t know if it was because he got it all wrong or may be since he appeared to be more Antiguan than us meddling here and there then he felt it for his new country.

  5. I thought Harold Lovell support the CCJ. What went
    Wrong? Why did he end up talking from both side of his mouth at the last minute? Lord have mercy on us black people.

  6. Harold Lovell can keep dreaming..If you think those results are any indication of the ABLP losing power,you are mistaken.. St Vincent went to a referendum and failed,Ralph Gonsalves is still in power..Grenada the same ,matter of fact,Grenada had a clean sweep after their first failure.. The UPP is dead,time for that to soak in.

  7. If you want to a true independent and free nation, then a country will have their own Supreme Court as the final court of appear. Why do Antiguan’s fail to trust their own legal institutions?

    Now is the time to create a: Antigua and Barbuda Supreme Court (ABSC) as our final court of appeal.

  8. Things are changing on this island and if the ALP government don’t be careful they will continue to lose support from the people , let’s look at the last general elections where we saw some constituencies results were very close , now CCJ , Personal ego, and letting go some great ministers who supports their people big time,then soon you will hear about limitations on importing vehicles from Japan….i say you all go ahead and deny poor people their luxury then you will further see a decline in support. I’m a strong alp , but can get weak…….WHATS NEXT ALP.

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