UPP condemns violence and ‘staged confrontation’ of its supporters during ‘Business Pull-up’ in St. Mary’s South
As the election season – known also as the “silly season” – kicks into high gear, an encounter between supporters of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) and the United Progressive Party (UPP) has prompted the latter to condemn what it calls a staged confrontation in St. Mary’s South on Saturday, October 22.
As the UPP was conducting the ninth edition of its weekly “Small Business Pull-Up,” reports say they encountered a group of ALP supporters and their candidate at a Bolans Village location.
Among the tensions that ensued, a male and a female became embroiled in an altercation, which led to the detention of the man by the Police. Reports say the two have since been charged with disorderly conduct.
Since then, ALP incumbent Samantha Marshall has accused the Opposition Party of instigating and perpetrating violence, and has called on UPP Candidate Kelvin “Shugy” Simon and the leadership to condemn the alleged attack.
Marshall claims that she and her group were in the area to host their usual weekend activity.
However, some Bolans residents have said there is no such “usual” activity in the constituency, and one person – an attorney-at-law – has alleged that the ALP Candidate actually told him that she and her group were “waiting for” the UPP caravan.
While Simon tells REAL News he “did not see and [does] not even know what happened” to spark the fight between the two people from opposing political sides, the UPP has put out a statement condemning the violence that occurred.
However, according to the Party, “the route for this UPP initiative had been approved by the Police who also accompanied the caravan.”
Therefore, the Party says, the confrontation between the two sides appears to have been an orchestrated effort by ALP operatives to provoke, intimidate and assault supporters of the UPP.
Since late August, the Opposition has successfully staged eight similar events in other constituencies to highlight and support small business owners – all without incident, the Party notes.
But since Prime Minister Gaston Browne flexed his muscle on October 15, during the “Small Business Pull-Up” in St. John’s City West, where he is the incumbent, many people believe his actions are what has stirred up ALP supporters to cause trouble.
At no time during the altercation did MP Marshall and her team attempt to defuse the tension last Saturday, the UPP says. Instead, she was quick to sow seeds of division by defending her team, while making a statement that completely twists the truth, the statement continues.
“The UPP takes pride in organizing peaceful events that engage and empower the people,” the political organization states. Therefore, it is vehemently opposed to any politically motivated violence, particularly ahead of the general elections.
The UPP encourages Marshall to find meaningful opportunities to empower young people to become more productive in uplifting their community.
Political Leader Harold Lovell says that every Antiguan and Barbudan has a right to peacefully organize, march and support their political beliefs – but no one has the right to violently attack their political opponents.
Meanwhile, Simon says “it is unfortunate that the small businesses in Bolans were denied the opportunity to participate in this initiative that has been effective in helping many small enterprises generate more sales, new customers and build community pride.”
The UPP says it will continue to host the weekly initiative in a peaceful and organized manner that is guaranteed by the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda.