Antigua and Barbuda’s two main political parties are gearing for a general election constitutionally due by March this year with contrasting launches of their political headquarters over the weekend.
The ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) used gospel music Sunday to launch its headquarters, insisting that only God knows who would win the next general election. The party is seeking a third consecutive term in office.
But the main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP), using local and foreign artistes for the launch of its headquarters, remained confident of its chances, buoyed no doubt by the opinion poll published by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) that it would win at least 11 of the 17 seats at stake in the elections.
However the UPP legislator Joanne Massiah ridiculed the results of the polls, telling supporters “the only person who knows who will win the next general election in Antigua & Barbuda is Almighty God.
“In 2004 and 2009 the Antigua Labour Party released polls that showed it winning by a landslide, God had other plans, The pollster who released the poll, Mr. Peter Wickham, put out a poll days before the general election in Barbados signaling a win by the Barbados Labour Party. The Democratic Labour Party won that election. God had other plans. When will the ALP stop playing mind games? The people will not be fooled by their rhetoric."
She said the ALP has been lead astray by supposed soothsayers from abroad before.
“We don't put our faith in those soothsayers. We put our faith in Almighty God and the people of Antigua & Barbuda," Massiah told supporters.
Wickham, said that the opinion poll showed a six to seven per cent percentage point swing in favour of the ALP.
“This effectively means that the UPP has lost six per cent of its support, while the ALP has gained seven per cent and the difference (1 per cent) is reflected in the assumption that the ALP has picked up support that went elsewhere in 2009,” CADRES said in a statement.
A confident ALP leader, Gaston Browne told supporters that on forming the next government, his administration would provide more affordable opportunities for young people to own land.
“Every single working youth in this country will be able to afford a parcel of land under Labour,” he said, promising that between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet would be made available to “each working youth in this country.
“We will subsidise the value of the land. We will make sure that that parcel of land will not cost you more than $15,000 for 6,000 square feet or $20,000 for 8,000 square feet,” he said, adding “every single working youth would be able to afford the payments for a parcel under our land for youth programme,” Browne said.
Browne, who will be contesting the election as party leader for the first time, is also promising that the party would appoint a young person to serve in the senate. He said his government would also ensure jobs for Antigua and Barbudans with unemployment reaching zero per cent during the first five years in office.
In the last general election , the UPP won 10 of the 17 seats.