St. John’s Antigua- The Antigua Labour Party has turned its back on boundaries commission member James Fuller, with the leader declaring him “persona non grata”.
If Gaston Browne has his way, Fuller would find himself a man without a party.
“As far as I am concerned, as the leader of the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party, Jimmy Fuller is persona non grata and will be treated accordingly,” the opposition leader declared in an interview with OBSERVER media.
He added, “He brings nothing to the institution. Nothing.”
Browne said the commissioner penning his name to the final Boundaries Commission report was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for himself and “others” within the organisation.
Although the opposition leader said he has no “quarrel” with Fuller personally, he said the ALP nominee for the boundaries commission has “treated me as a personal enemy”.
Browne also accuses Fuller of “breaching the party’s code of conduct” and bringing the ALP into “disrepute”.
He said Fuller had appeared on radio programmes where, he “maligned” ALP candidates, this, he said, is evidence of him (Fuller) contravening protocol.
“This, along with his recent treacherous and evil act of signing the boundaries commission report agreeing to gerrymandering the boundaries, and putting our party at a disadvantage confirms he is now a liability,” Browne said.
ALP MP’s Asot Michael and Lester Bird went to the courts Friday morning, before the sitting of the Lower House, jointly filing injunctions restraining the Boundaries Commission from submitting its report, the Speaker of the House, Gisele Isaac, from “accepting or taking any further steps in relation to the report and Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer prohibiting him from taking any steps pursuant to or “the laying” of the constituency commission report.
Browne said the party was prepared to execute its plans, including submitting a “minority report” that, he said, was signed on February 7, and submitted to the party by Fuller’s attorney, accusing his fellow commission members of skewing the report to the benefit of the United Progressive Party.
The document submitted by Browne titled “Dissenting Report of Boundaries Commissioner James Fuller” said, in part, “I do not agree with the recommendations outlined in the report being filed by my fellow commission members”
The other members of the commission are: Clovis Ralph, Clarence Crump, and James Sebastian.
Fuller contested the report, at that time, on three grounds; there were no proper consultations, and the commission “failed” to seek experts on demographics with issues concerning boundaries and the commission did not abide by the Constituencies Boundaries Commission Guidance Act of 2012.
The ALP leader said he was shocked when the ALP commissioner seemed to have done an about face and signed on to the report.
Browne said he was caught off guard when the constituency of St Peters was found to be on the chopping block—a matter, he said, he was never made aware of, despites Fuller’s recent claims of continued transparency between party representatives and himself throughout the process.
“To our surprise he signed off on it and we recognized, too, that there was a change in the recommendation. Instead of eliminating Robin Yearwood (constituency), Asot Michael (constituency) was eliminated instead,” he said
“He (Fuller) himself had confirmed in writing that the UPP appointed commissioners were gerrymandering. He signed a minority report and then all of a sudden changed his position,” Browne said.
He charged Fuller with being “instrumental in manipulating the process,” a move, he said, puts his party at a disadvantage.
“There was manipulation…it shows collusion. He may strengthen our case to show the commissioners did not operate independently, did not operate fairly and operated with malice and operated irrationally,” the opposition leader charged.
However, Browne said he believes his former comrade’s actions would help win a court victory for the ALP—the first of which would be on Monday.
“That is a matter that Jimmy Fuller will have to answer to on the stand before a judge,” he said.
The ALP leader said he would not “waste his time” by seeking to officially ex-communicate Fuller from the party. However, he said the executive could still take the decision to haul Fuller before the Disciplinary Tribunal and officially expel him.
James Fuller could not be reached for comment.