Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has announced that voters will go to the polls on June 12 to elect a new government, ending weeks of intense speculation and debate as to the election date.
“I have consulted with the Almighty God to give me the vision and to tell me what to do,” Spencer told thousands of supporters of the incumbent United Progressive Party (UPP) at a rally in Potters, a village east of the capital, St. John’s, on the night of May 15.
“I believe that we have made the case for the UPP to be returned to office. The case has been made overwhelmingly,” he added.
“Therefore, the day when the people of Antigua and Barbuda will rise to the occasion and do what is right is June 12,” Spencer continued. “June 12 is Election Day when the people of Antigua and Barbuda will say UPP now more than ever.”
The UPP, which is seeking a third term in office, is being challenged by the Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP), led by Gaston Browne, in the 17-seat Legislature.
The UPP rally heard from some of its candidates, including Jacqui Quinn, Dr. Errol Cort and Chester Hughes.
Spencer said the UPP stands on its record and deserves a third term to continue building a new society and create a charter for the future development of Antigua and Barbuda.
“The elections are very critical,” he said. “It is very important to the continued development of Antigua and Barbuda.”
“We cannot return to the past,” he added. “I want to say to you that it is necessary for us to recognize and appreciate that, although victory is in sight, we cannot drop our guard. I want to tell you that it is not over until it is over.”
Spencer also told supporters that there is work to be done in order for the governing party to “concretize the victory.”
“We have to galvanize the people and defeat them (opposition),” he declared. “You have to do it for yourself, for your community and country.
“The most important consideration is that you want to stay the course and keep Antigua free and democratic, and keep out those who are not about people’s development but their own enrichment,” he added.
Spencer said the date of the issuance of the Writ for Elections was on May 16, with Nomination Day being May 21.
Browne, who is leading the ALP into elections for the first time, expressed confidence of triumphing in the polls.
He described as “pathetic and bordering on a pappy show” Spencer’s tenure.
“The 12th of June, 2014, will be judgment day for Baldwin Spencer and the UPP,” he told reporters. “It will be deliverance day for the people of Antigua and Barbuda and victory day for the ALP.”
The ALP had suffered its first electoral defeat in 2004 after nearly three decades of political control by the iconic and controversial Bird family.
Lester Bird, 76, who succeeded his father and ALP founder Vere Bird Sr. as prime minister from 1994 until 2004, lost the ALP’s leadership race to Browne in 2012.
The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) said about 48,000 people have been registered to vote after the registration exercise last November.