On December 20, 2022, Gaston Browne Prime Minster of Antigua and Barbuda announced the date of the next general elections and his hope to return to government for a third consecutive term.
He also announced the date of nomination which falls on the first business day following the long Christmas break. Nomination day starts at 8am and ends at 6pm today Wednesday 28, December and everyone is waiting to see who will emerge as a candidate.
For the ruling regime, the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) and the Opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) as well as the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), their candidates are practically set in stone.
But in the St Peter constituency, there may still be the question of who is legally and constitutionally able to be duly nominated as the ABLP candidate.
While the ABLP has selected Rawdon Turner to represent it in the January 18, 2023 elections, Asot Michael, the current Member of Parliament (MP) for that constituency remains adamant that he is legally the candidate who should run on the labour party ticket.
Island Press Box is in receipt of a letter intended to be delivered to Lorna Simon, the Supervisor of Elections in Antigua & Barbuda from lawyers representing Mr. Michael.
They argue that an interim injunction by the High Court, which declared that Mr. Turner was “not selected in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party” is still valid and must be adhered to.
“The Defendants have not moved the Court for a variation of this Order in any manner whatsoever, nor have they at any time appealed this order. The consequence of this is that Rawdon Turner cannot be lawfully nominated upon the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party ticket without a violation of this Order. Therefore, such a nomination would be not as required by law,” the letter reads.
In the letter Mr. Michael’s lawyer also petition the Antigua Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) to abide by and be guided by the Orders of the Court and not disregard them, stating that “failure to obey this Order may result in contempt proceedings being commenced for violation of this Order. Such contempt proceedings may be initiated as against a principal offender or one who aids and abets in its disobedience.”
Although both electorates and pollsters have assumed that Mr. Michael would run as an independent candidate, he has never declared his independence from the ABLP and has remained adamant that he is still a member of the ruling party.
Mr. Michael has been in politics since the late 1990s, serving in many ministerial positions, the last of which was as Minister of Investment and Trade in 2018.
His stint as a Minister came to an end when the Governor General on advice of prime minister Browne, stripped him of his ministerial role for good in 2019. He was expelled from the government as a result of a corruption scandal involving British investor Peter Virdee who was involved in bribery in the Caribbean.
Nomination Day Basic Guidelines:
- A nominee must be 21 years and older
- Must be a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda
- Must be proficient in the English Language
- Must pay an XCD$500 deposit
- Must have a proposer to duly nominate them, a seconder and eight other persons
- Must present their electoral or national I.D card
What happens after Nomination Day?
Once candidates have been duly nominated, the Antigua Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) will file the nomination papers. The names of the nominees and the constituency they will represent will be listed in the government gazette and later sent out to the media.
Ballots are printed after nomination is confirmed and symbols for independent candidates will be selected. Persons registered up until November 30th will be eligible to vote in the January 18, 2023 general elections. Claims and objections to a person’s voter registration will end on January 9, 2023.
Once elections have been called, any candidate who obtains 1/8 of the vote will have their deposit returned to them, otherwise the deposit of XCD$500 will remain in the coffers of the treasury.