Prime Minister Gaston Browne and St. Peter MP Asot Michael have both responded to the High Court judgement that grants Michael injunctive relief from the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).
Michael sought the court’s help in restraining the ALP from selecting Rawdon Turner as its candidate for the constituency in the next general elections, and Browne is alleged to have told an online news portal that Michael is using the court as a delay tactic.
Browne has stated unequivocally that Michael will not contest the polls on his party’s ticket come the next elections.
Accordingly, he is quoted as saying that any procedural breaches that might have accompanied Turner’s appointment will be corrected immediately, so he can be confirmed as the Party’s candidate for St. Peter.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday night, Michael says the slate of ALP candidates published by Browne on March 25 – from which he was omitted – disappointed and offended him as a longstanding member of the party and the incumbent representative.
The absence of his name, in his view, was a clear violation of his rights as a member of the ALP, he says.
In spite of their disagreements, the St. Peter MP says, he has never disrespected Browne as leader of the party; and as the duly elected representative for the constituency, he will not tolerate any mistreatment.
The disrespect, he explains, is what prompted his court action.
Further, at no time has anyone, including Turner, approached him and asked that he withdraw his candidacy and support theirs, Michael says.
The ALP’s constitution speaks to conducting a primary if several persons are interested in contesting a constituency. However, this procedure was not followed in selecting Turner.
During the hearing of the matter, Lionel “Max” Hurst told the court that “the use of the primary system has, in the past, resulted in undesirable consequences.”
These, he said, included voters being encouraged to register as ALP members for the first time and “to vote for a weak candidate in the ALP primary.”
But High Court Justice Marissa Robertson said that identifying shortcomings in the primary process does not, on its own, empower the Central Executive to utilize a procedure that is different from that of the party’s Revised Constitution.
Additionally, in her 27-page judgment, she noted that there was no evidence before the court that the process of “polling” was conducted and that Turner was the successful candidate as a result of this process.