PM declares ‘holy war’ against the opposition

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda: Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has declared a “holy war” against the opposition in his country as the fallout continues from the March 12 High Court ruling that his election and those of two of his Cabinet ministers were invalid due to polling irregularities.

“The war that I called for is a war which really speaks to our being able to deal with situations that are currently threatening to undermine the peace and tranquility of the state and in fact if one looks at the whole context in which the statement was made, I was referring (to a) more Biblical premise where we will be waging a holy war against those who are attempting to create serious destabilization in the country,” Spencer said last Sunday.

The main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has described Spencer’s declaration of war as a “disgrace”.

“It seems that Spencer would have our country in flames and rubble and our people injured and maimed to keep himself in power. For that is what war does,” ALP and Opposition Leader Lester Bird said in a radio broadcast last Sunday.

However, Spencer said that he used the word “war” in the context of juxtaposing that with certain Biblical premises “if one understands and appreciates what is happening in Antigua and Barbuda today and what the opposition forces are seeking to do”.

“They are making every effort to make this country ungovernable,” said Spencer. “They are doing a lot of things which are geared at destabilizing and they have said clearly they want to develop a situation where there is total anarchy in Antigua and Barbuda.”

Spencer said his government faces a choice of taking a defeatist attitude or fighting back against the opposition parties.

The ALP has been calling on the government to hold either fresh general elections or by-elections following the court ruling and has vowed to continue to protest the Spencer administration.

The party has staged several protests outside Spencer’s office to reiterate its demands.

Spencer said it was ironic that the opposition had gone to the courts to challenge the victories of Education Minister Jacqui Quinn Leandro, Tourism Minister John Maginley and himself, but were saying to the ruling party at the same time “don’t fight in the courts”.

“I don’t quite understand this,” said Spencer, adding that “there are some fundamental principles that have arisen in these petitions which, in our view, the judge did not apply them properly and as such we feel that these matters should be addressed at the higher court.

“Just as the opposition felt constrained to file petitions in the court to have our election nullified we believe we have a right and under the circumstances a very good right to have to seek to have this matter reviewed.”

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