Antigua and Barbuda
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Asot lives to fight another day, ABLP to focus on party affairs

Leader of the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party, Prime Minister Gaston Browne (left) and St Peter MP Asot Michael (file photo)

The plan by the Antigua Labour Party’s (ABLP) to deter the Member of Parliament (MP) for St Peter from running on the party’s ticket in the next elections has hit a major road block after the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ruled in the favour of the embattled politician.

For months, MP Asot Michael has been fighting moves by the party to have him replaced as the candidate for St Peter in the courts.

However, the ABLP, in March, announced Rawdon Turner as its candidate for the constituency, a move that Michael, through his lawyer, argued was not in accordance with the ABLP’s constitution.

The court agreed with Michael on that stance and granted an interim declaration stating that Turner was not selected in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party.

This means that neither Turner nor any other qualified person can be selected as the ABLP candidate for St Peter in the upcoming general elections.

“The Labour Party like any other entity in Antigua is under an obligation to abide by any order given by the court and so, that is what the party intends to do,” said Dr David Dorsett, the attorney representing the defendants – Mary-Clare Hurst, Paul Chet Greene and Gaston Browne — when Observer media reached out to him yesterday.

Although many people will be waiting to see what will be the next move for the ABLP as the issue remains tied up in the courts, Dr Dorsett told this newsroom that the party’s focus will be on preparing for the next general elections with a full slate of candidates.

He did, however, mention that the ABLP will await judgement on another matter concerning Michael.

Details on that case were not forthcoming.

“That is where they intend to expend most of their energy as opposed to hampering over court matters. What we can say is that the ABLP has in fact obtained a default judgement against Mr Asot Michael and Mr Michael is now in a mad scramble trying to get that default judgement set aside, but the ABLP has filed a counter claim against Mr Michael who has brought a claim against the party and because the counter claim by the party was not defended within an appropriate time and manner, the Labour Party obtained a default judgement against Mr Michael.

“That is the current state of affairs. The hearing for that judgement is some time down the road and we will see how things turn out. But as I said, notwithstanding the judgement of the court in this particular matter the party as I understand it is focusing on its political objectives which is to have candidates in all the constituencies so that when an election is called, they are ready like the other parties to contest the elections,” he added.

The ruling was, however, welcomed by Michael who not only thanked God but also the courts “for the wisdom and independence” in granting him the interim injunction on April 7 this year and maintaining the injunction once again with this new ruling.

Michael was in full agreement with the decision as it was his belief from the beginning that the ABLP’s actions was a clear violation of his rights.

“The absence of my name was in my view a clear violation of my rights as a member of the Party. Notwithstanding the disagreements between myself and the Political Leader, I never once questioned his entitlement to be respected and treated as Leader of the Party. I fail to see how I would be expected to tolerate his clear mistreatment of me as the duly elected Representative for the Constituency of St. Peter within the Party structure.

“It was for these reasons, I immediately filed an application in the High Court for an injunction to protect my rights and the interests of those I represent in St Peter. I am grateful to God for the strength he has bestowed upon me in the face of adversity. I am truly grateful for the wisdom and independence of our Courts, having granted an interim injunction on April 7 2022 and maintained the injunction by written judgment given on May 12 2022,” Michael said in a press release.

He added that he is looking forward to support from all his fellow comrades including Rawdon Turner himself, now that this ruling has been made.