PM pledges to honour court ruling

ST. JOHN‘S, Antigua and Barbuda : Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has criticized the opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) for engaging in rhetoric and actions which he said are not in the best interest of the country.

In an address to the nation last Sunday night, Spencer said “the country is in a mood of expectancy” now that “the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal has concluded hearings into the election appeal matter”.

As the country awaits the ruling of the judges, Spencer made it clear that the decision of the Court of Appeal in this matter is final and both the government and the United Progressive Party (UPP), which he leads, will abide by that decision.

“Neither the government nor the UPP will engage in any action or rhetoric that is not in the best interest or our country,” said Spencer.

“Leaders of the Antigua Labour Party on the other hand have continued their irresponsible behaviour by threatening to lock down the country if things do not go their way,” said Spencer. “I am confident that the vast majority of Antiguans and Barbudans, who are decent, hardworking and law-abiding people, would not allow that to happen.”

Earlier this month, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court met to review a decision of High Court judge Louise Blenman that rendered the election of Spencer, Tourism Minister John Maginley and Education Minister Jacqui Quinn-Leandro invalid due to polling day irregularities during the March 12, 2009 general elections.

The government was able to secure a stay from the court to maintain the status quo until the Court of Appeal completed its review of the case.

Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins presided over the two-day hearing with assistance from Justices Janice George Creque and Ola Mae Edwards.

If Justice Blenman’s decision is upheld, the UPP would be left with six seats in Parliament, the ALP with seven, and the UPP-aligned Barbuda People’s Movement with one seat.

Such a decision would trigger by-elections for the affected constituencies or another general election.

“While we await the decision of the appeal court, the government continues to carry out the mandate given to us by you the people of Antigua and Barbuda to implement policies and programs that will make life better for you,” said Spencer.

He said that the commitment of the UPP-led government to the democratic principles, to the rule of law and to good governance is unquestionable.

“No other government in the history of our twin-island home has been more strident in the defense of these principles or has passed more laws to safeguard them than the current administration,” said Spencer.

“The independence of the judiciary, which the countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States share, is enshrined in our constitutional arrangements. This independence of the courts continues to be honoured, respected and defended by the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the United Progressive Party,” said Spencer.

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