Political analyst Arvel Grant foresees the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party, or ABLP, led by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, winning a “second term” in office. He noted, however, that the party was taking a risk standing by Ascot Michael, the Tourism and Investment Minister and member of parliament for the St. Peter constituency.
In October, Michael's cabinet appointment was revoked by Browne pending the outcome of his arrest related to a bribery investigation by the Metropolitan Police in London, according to Antigua Observer. Commenting on the incident, Browne stated that Michael's arrest was sufficient for him to “revoke immediately his appointment as a Cabinet member and to relieve him of all Ministerial portfolios until this matter is resolved” and that he expects every member of his government “to comply with the highest possible standards required of public office.”
Despite predicting an ABLP victory at the polls, Grant insisted that Michael's presence in the party is hindering its progress.
“I have never met Asot Michael. I don’t know him. I have no particular feeling about him one way or the other, but, for his public performance and utterances given the two (scandals)…and the response of the prime minister, one gets the impression that the prime minister may have found himself moving faster than his party in some matters of transparency. But, you get the impression that the prime minister doesn’t want Michael as part of his team,” Grant said.
Browne announced Saturday that parliamentary “elections will be within a matter of weeks.” The date has been set for March 21st.