The United Progressive Party (UPP) is objecting to the extension of the State of Emergency – which has been in place for more than a year – and reiterates that the Public Health Act offers the protections the Government claims it needs.
On Thursday, June 17, the Executive decided that the State of Emergency will be extended for another 90 days when it expires on June 28.
In a press release issued last night, the Party says it “strongly disagrees with the extension” and asks what emergency exists when the country is fully reopened and “virtually all social and economic activities have resumed.”
A State of Emergency is defined as “a situation of national danger or disaster in which a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control.”
Based on this definition, the Party asks, “What is the national danger that necessitates an extension?” It notes that the Ministry of Health reported, also on Thursday, that there are no current cases of the COVID-19 virus in Antigua and Barbuda.
“The section of the definition that is applicable here is [the] Government’s intention to regain control,” the Party charges.
Therefore, it says, it views the extension as “nothing but a demonstration of the government’s political unease and its fear of a disaffected population.”
The UPP refers to several issues plaguing the Government – including late pension payments, disgruntled former LIAT workers, lack of water, the closing of businesses, and low employment rates – for which little to no assistance has been rendered.
The Party believes that these persons – if allowed – would show their dissatisfaction with the Administration through mass demonstrations, now prohibited under the State of Emergency.
“The suppression of the people’s civil liberties, as a General Election nears, and the intention of using State power to intimidate lie at the root of this undemocratic decision,” the release states. The Party has repeatedly stated that the provisions of the Public Health Act are sufficient authority to impose Regulations, provisions and protocols for managing the COVID-19 pandemic