Tuesday, 03 July 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St John's - Later this year the United Progressive Party (UPP) government will begin the process of selecting constituency candidates. Party Chairman Harold Lovell explained that this is to take place at a party retreat at a time to be announced.
On Thursday UPP supporters in St. Mary’s North had protested the proposed appointment of Chester Hughes during a constituency meeting last Thursday in Cashew Hill. The constituency office expressed an interest in Dr. Philmore Benjamin at that meeting and again during talks with Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer on Sunday.
The Prime Minister is to make a decision on the matter soon and Harold Lovell says it is likely that that decision would fall in line with the wishes of the branch.
Speaking on a Observer radio program on Monday morning, Lovell said the UPP has been looking at a strategic approach to the next elections and no decision is yet cast in stone as “several options” continue to be explored for certain branches.
In light of this revised tactical approach, Lovell said it means that the party must have the best candidates in place to challenge those of the Antigua Labour Party, which means some candidates would have to be shifted around in order to yield those results.
Chester Hughes is currently the MP for All Saints East and St. Luke.
“You can’t rule out anything. Anybody could be called upon to move. We work as a team,” Lovell said. “We expect that it is possible that he (Hughes) may run in another constituency and the possibility of course would be the constituency of St. Mary’s North.”
But whether or not Hughes would be accepted in the constituency is something still to be decided since the blessings of the Branch would be required.
The UPP Chairman said that Thursday’s protest action is “something to be regretted” and it is that regret that sparked two meetings over the weekend involving Hughes, Dr. Benjamin and Algernon Roberts, who has also indicated an interest in the representing the constituency.
“The meetings went extremely well. We have an understanding on the way forward. So, I suspect that we would have this matter fully resolved,” Lovell said.
“At the moment, let’s say everybody is still in the dressing room and we are still working out exactly who would be best suited for particular positions. Whatever we do the ultimate power resides with the Branch and while the political leader does have an overriding veto we try to work in a way that meets with the wishes of the branch,” Lovell said.
Regarding the issue of St. John’s City South, Lovell said that constituency now has a vacancy that must be filled and while the party would be considering “new” prospective candidates to fill the position, it will not necessarily rule out candidates who have contested elections before.
In the end, the party chairman explained that the final decision would reflect the best utilization of the political human resources available to contest the next general elections.
Lovell acknowledged that ALP stronghold constituencies like St. Peter and elsewhere are indeed tough constituencies to contest but the UPP would not be standing down and the possibility does exist that Senator Massiah would be replaced.
Chester Hughes declined to comment on the matter when contacted on Monday night, except to confirm that he had met with the UPP leadership over the weekend.
He said he would prefer to wait on permission from the party to speak in detail on the matter since it is one that falls outside of his purview.
Hughes is currently off island attending a telecommunications conference in Trinidad.
Further, he outlined that the matter is still very much alive and as such he would prefer that the leaders handle it until a final decision is made.