By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer says he is anxious to set a date for general election but his hands are presently tied.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer
Spencer said the opposition Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) is to blame, charging that it has delayed the process through the courts. The ABLP is challenging proposed changes to constituency’s boundaries and the re-registration of the voters before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and Spencer said he has to await the court ruling before making his next move.
“So if there is any claim out there that we are trying to delay these elections that is preposterous. The point is the opposition is the one responsible for creating these what I consider to be unnecessary challenges to the process and as a result of that, if there is any delay at all, it will have to do with the fact that we have the process being tied up in the courts as a result of actions taken by the opposition,” Spencer said.
However, the ABLP has rejected the claims
made by Spencer.
“The ABLP regards this claim by Mr Spencer that the ABLP is to blame as untruthful, because it misrepresents the facts. It also demonstrates the inability of the political leader to plan and to execute, taking into account the timelines of the law under which he acted. These inabilities and the untruthfulness of the political leader demonstrate why the polls all show Mr Spencer’s United Progressive Party (UPP) as losing the 2014 general elections when they are called,” the ABLP said in a statement last week.
According to the opposition, the ruling UPP, led by Spencer, made two mistakes last year that have resulted in delays which are of Spencer’s making. The outgoing prime minister decided: (1) To commence a total re-registration of voters on September 30, 2013, to November 4, 2013; and (2) To adopt a June 28, 2013, Boundaries Commission Report that alters constituencies’ boundaries.
The ABLP noted that nothing has been ordered by any court that would prevent Spencer from moving forward with his re-registration process. The re-registration of voters will require four steps lasting more than twelve weeks, before readiness of the electoral registers for elections can be reached.
Spencer recently declared March 15 as a date to keep in mind and he is urging Antiguans and Barbadians to get ready.
“It’s just a question of getting people sensitize to the fact an election is due to be held within a matter of several months and of course in the planning process, there is a lot of activities that do take place and I just want to set the stage for the people of Antigua and Barbuda to bear certain dates in mind and I choose the 15th of March as a day in which something will certainly happen in Antigua and Barbuda,” the prime minister said.