ST. JOHN‘S, Antigua: Deputy Prime Minister, Wilmoth Daniel, has resigned but remains a member of the government of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
In a letter to the Prime Minister earlier this week, Daniel, who is the substantive Minister of Health and Social Transformation, said he had lost confidence in Spencer after the Prime Minister failed to come to his defense during a recent controversy involving the rental of a building for his office.
Spencer has confirmed receiving the letter from Daniel, who served as deputy prime minister for the last five years and retained the position after recent elections.
“I did receive the letter to the effect that he has decided not to continue as my deputy. I can’t say much more about that right now but I hope he will remain true to the cause and that we will find a way of resolving whatever difficulties there might be in the interest of the people of Antigua and Barbuda and the government. Of course, these are challenging times for all of us in the Caribbean and, indeed, the world and we have to grapple with these challenges,” he said.
In the interim, Spencer is hoping that Opposition Leader, Lester Bird, will place the needs of the country over partisanship.
“I would hope that he would be a statesman and think in terms of doing whatever he can as an individual who has served in a government for a considerable period of time, recognizing that he has a responsibility over and above party politics,” Spencer said.
Daniel’s resignation comes amidst reports of a strained relationship with Spencer.
However, the Deputy Prime Minister dismissed the notion that his transfer from the Ministry of Public Works to Health and Social Transformation was a demotion.
“Once I have an opportunity to serve, that is all I need,” he said. “If the Prime Minister decides that he wants to move me from the Ministry of Public Works to the Ministry of Health that is his prerogative.”
The post of Deputy Prime Minister is not prescribed in the Constitution. But the Prime Minister can use his discretion in making such an appointment.
According to political analyst, Arvil Grant, there is no need to rush to find a replacement for Daniel.
“The Prime Minister may have learned his lesson in this matter. If the deputy … has the consensus support of significant parts of the party, then it helps the process, but if it doesn’t, it creates the potential for contention and rumours of overthrow and overtake,” Grant said.