16th August 2012, St. John’s Antigua- Despite reports in the media, Leader of the Opposition, Lester Bird, has in no uncertain terms made it clear that he will not step down from his position.
In a press release last night, he responded to a media report which stated that ALP-aligned parliamentarians were moving to ask Bird to step down as opposition leader but to remain as Antigua Labour Party political leader.
“There has been no such discussion with me, and I would not agree to any such arrangement,” Bird said.
“The constitution of the ALP at Section 126.96.36.199 commands that ‘the political leader of the party shall serve as the parliamentary leader and (be) the person entitled to head any government formed by the party.’ As the leader of the ALP, I intend to exercise the duties and functions which the constitution compels.”
Bird has recently been plagued with internal challenges to his leadership. His colleagues are of the opinion that Bird’s declining health is reason enough for him to step down.
He was notably absent from the OECS assembly last Friday, but in his press release Bird said that it was not his intention to boycott it, rather that an inflamed back would have prevented him from sitting comfortably during the event.
“The question of sitting for an extended period was not very attractive, on Friday, August 10, 2012, since my back was inflamed and I could not stand for long periods on that day. Some days are better than others, since the operation on my back several months ago,” he said.
Bird added that initially there had been some discussion about him delivering remarks on behalf of the opposition leaders, but that Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer was already sure to speak.
“(One of the opposition leaders) reasoned that Antigua & Barbuda would appear too dominant if both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition spoke at Friday’s inaugural assembly. Not wanting to have the assembly start on a contentious footing, I agreed that Antigua & Barbuda (would) support that other leader.”
Chairman of the ALP Gaston Brown, along with Molwyn Joseph and Robin Yearwood, are a few of the names thrown around in the media as potential successors to Bird.
“The ALP will continue to lead the struggle against those who may place their personal ambitions ahead of the interest of the people of Antigua & Barbuda, as exhibited by Baldwin Spencer and other UPP politicians,” Bird added.
A source at a meeting of the ALP parliamentarians yesterday reported that Brown, Asot Michael and Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin supported the move to remove Bird as opposition leader. However, Joseph, Yearwood and Eustace “Teco” Lake were among the ALP parliamentarians who would not agree to ask the leader to step down.
Bird said that he continues to lead battles in the courts, in the councils of the ALP, in parliament and elsewhere, and as such countless electors have encouraged him to continue the fight against the UPP regime, which he deems does not respect the law.
“My leadership is unassailable, and I intend to continue to lead this Party for as long as my health lasts.”