Yet another election with no changes to boundaries; Symister says late start and ALP mindset might be responsible

Once again, the country will be going into a General Election with no changes having been made to the constituency boundaries – with some residents expressing disappointment about the status quo.

For years there have been complaints about the disparity between several constituencies.  At present, some lists – such as those of St. George and St. John’s Rural West – have more than 5,000 voters, while smaller ones, like St. Phillip’s South, are at approximately 2,000.

But in spite of complaints from concerned citizens, groups and political candidates, the Browne Administration has not moved to rectify the situation and pursue parity.

While the Antigua and Barbuda Boundaries Commission is in place, says Leon Chaku Symister – one of its members – the body was constituted late.  Therefore, it was not given enough time to do its work, as required by law, and effect the kind of change required for equitable polling.

Symister, an attorney, is of the view that the governing Antigua Labour Party Administration is keeping the boundaries as they are because it believes this will create some advantage over its political opponents.

The Commission’s new panel, headed by former Labour Party Minister Hilroy Humphreys, was empanelled in June 2021, but reportedly had not received the required funding to do its work.

The body is charged with making recommendations on whether there should be changes to the constituency boundaries; but only the work that did not require any major financing was tackled by the Commission.

As part of its mandate, the Commission sought to hold a public consultation in April this year, ahead of general elections – now due on January 18. 

The 2013 report of a previous Commission was challenged by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).  It was successful on the grounds that the Court believed there had not been sufficient consultation with the people.