Another internal rift has developed between Asot Michael, the beleaguered Member of Parliament for the St. Peter constituency, and the Executive of the Antigua Labour Party.
The new rift stems from a letter written to Michael on Friday, October 22, by the party’s general secretary, Senator Mary-Claire Hurst, in which she notifies the MP of his exclusion from an executive meeting.
According to Senator Hurst, his exclusion was determined by “the several hostile lawsuits which you have commenced in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda against the Leader of the ABLP, against the General Secretary of the ABLP, against the Chairman of the ABLP Tribunal, indicating your hostility to the institution and its component parts.”
In the letter, Michael is advised that his disruptive and hostile behaviour towards the Party and its leadership has created a rift that prevents him from playing any useful role within the executive body of that organization.
The MP is warned that if he attempts to enter the meeting it will be deemed a trespass and he would then be escorted off the Nugent Avenue property by law enforcement.
In a correspondence dated October 23, Michael says he was otherwise occupied, seeing constitutents. However, he expresses disappointment with the decision to exclude him, and seeks to quash the dispute among his party’s members – whom he says he considers “family.”
But less than 24 hours after penning that letter, Michael came out with another correspondence, this time threatening to bring yet another court action to hold the executive accountable.
He accuses the party, of late, of having departed from the spirit of comradeship and, instead, “[aligning] with personalities.” This, he says, is to the detriment of the organisation.
The MP says he is not seeking to place the Labour Party into disrepute publicly, but he “must let all know the unlawful behaviour that is becoming so readily acceptable by the executive.”
Reminding Senator Hurst that he is an elected member of Parliament, Michael says the laws of the country must apply equally to everyone.
Further, he tells the general secretary that the Labour Party is not a “Gaston Browne” party. Neither is Browne, the political leader, a king, he adds. “We are all equal though he may currently be first amongst us” – which is a fluid position – Michael adds.
Only last week, the St. Peter MP urged the Prime Minister to conduct himself in a manner befitting his position, and reminded him, in the words of the late Sir Lester Bird, that he could not divorce his personal behaviour from the party or the office he holds.
Accordingly, some residents believe that the letter penned by Hurst is “pay back” for Michael’s daring to chide Browne. However, in other quarters, Michael is receiving kudos for his remarks.
“Which other Minister would be bold enough to tell Gaston to tone down and behave like a PM and as a statesman?” asks an Antiguan living in the United States.
“They dare not. No one in the ALP would dare tell Gaston to shut up and get off social media. Asot, you did a good and bold job,” the man writes.
“I always wondered if the Attorney-General, the Governor-General, and the others were afraid of this bully. Asot showed them up big time,” the man concludes.
Michael, meanwhile, sees the terms of Hurst’s letter as punitive/disciplinary action against him.
He says this “contravenes the express terms, if not the spirit of the injunction” now in place against the senator, PM Browne and Lionel “Max” Hurst, who serves as chairman of the party’s tribunal.
Accordingly, he threatens further court action in order to obtain justice in the political organization. Michael says if the party fails to act immediately, “then none will be able to [act] tomorrow;” thus his reason for continuing to seek legal redress.