ST. JOHN’S, Antigua - FOLLOWING a brutal election campaign, the Gaston Brown-led Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) has returned to form the Government for the next five years - but by a reduced majority.
When the dust settled in the wee hours today (Jan. 19), Gaston Browne was returned as Prime Minister for a third term as his Party had, up to publication time, won nine of the 17 seats on offer, while the United Progressive Party (UPP) won four, incumbent Independent Candidate Asot Micheal won his seat and the Barbuda Party took one seat.
The results, which were disappointing for Browne, was not shocking for political pundits as many indicated that there were disgust with the incumbent's handling of the country, and the exploitation of issues by the main opposition party.
Browne’s ABLP lost six of the 15 seats that it had won in the 2018 Elections.
The Prime Minister-elect and his Attorney-General will be sworn-in today.
During his speech to a gathering of supporters, Browne acknowledged the defeat of his incumbent candidates but recognized that it allows for fresh talent and new faces to return to the mix.
He said that it also allows for the organization to bring in new talent to form the next government
“So, we do not see this as a bad thing to say, we see it as an opportunity at the same time,” Browne said. “However, I want to thank those of my colleagues who would have served, would have served this country well for the last eight and a half years, and, of course, we will continue to stand by them.”
The outspoken Prime Minister conceded that some of his colleagues did not have the willpower to fight, as he noted many had gotten liturgic after serving two terms in office. And it is an area he said that was discussed at the leadership level of the party.
“You cannot take the decision, because you are incumbent, and that you may have challenges…you cannot take them for granted. And that is precisely what would have happened,” Browne revealed.
Meanwhile, he called for unity as he seeks to get down to the business of running the country.
“I want to make an appeal to all Antiguans and Barbudians, especially our political opponents, to accept the result of the Elections and let us come together as a united nation that will fight together and unify this country,” Browne stressed.