Wednesday, 25 April 2012 02:31
By Everton barnes and Alex Holder
Antigua St John's - Leader of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Lester Bird and ALP Chairman Gaston Browne have both expressed a desire to adopt a united front aimed at restoring the perception of unity within the ALP and rebuilding the people’s confidence.
Speaking on the ZDK Radio programme Insight on Tuesday night, Browne said he was not trying to be controversial, or to be part of a leadership popularity contest.
Insight returned to the airwaves after an absence of several weeks.
Browne said he has taken steps that will show his unwavering commitment to the ALP over the next several months leading up to the elections, and he would also help the party’s leader to prepare for the anticipated 2014 elections.
“I expect us to contest the next elections as a united institution," Browne said. "There is absolutely no room for mistakes… no room for foolishness as we go down the stretch. I am calling for a cease-fire in the interest of the Antigua Labour Party, and in the interest of the long-suffering people… The people are ready for us, let us now ready ourselves for the people.”
He said the party’s focus should now be on the development of programmes and policies for the empowerment of the people.
Bird said contrary to what is being portrayed in the public about the Labour Party being dysfunctional, having differing views is not unique to the ALP, but the party’s fundamental goal has always remained the same.
“We are going to unite together," he said. "I am going to make sure that whatever inputs I make will be in the interest of the party, and not necessarily in the interest of Lester Bird. We have to conjoin together and make sure that the paramountcy of the party and the paramountcy of the country will be what we are aiming for.”
Speaking for the first time about the Wadadli Power Plant, Browne said there is a “used power generation storm” in Antigua, and admitted that he was not satisfied with the outcome of the three-hour press conference.
He also opined that the prime minister was too emotional in his reaction to the situation.
“I believe that there should be full transparency and accountability, evidencing that they have nothing to hide,” he said.
The ALP deputy leader said he was not going to make any assertions about whether the engines were used, but he did advise that if they were in fact new, then the government must defend itself.
Browne noted that there are independent observers in Antigua, outside of politicians and party supporters, who would like to see whether the power plant engines are new or used.
“I hope the prime minister is taking this matter seriously. He has an obligation to do all that is necessary to show that the engines are new to avoid any speculation that they are used. The onus is on the government to provide sufficient information,” Browne said, while Bird reiterated the party’s stance on the subject.
Shifting focus to the perceived ALP internal conflict on the economic citizenship programme that he has been piloting for some time, Browne said, “I am not going against the party’s position.”
But he did say that the ultimate decision on whether such a programme is implemented lies in the hands of the people, and suggested that a poll be carried out to learn their position.
Bird had said the ALP decided not to support the move since it was not a popular one among “the people,” and he suggested that it was improper for Browne to move forward with his thinking, against party policy.
“I am not seeking to be controversial… I am not seeking any leadership popularity either,” Browne said before reiterating his stance on the subject.