St. John’ Antigua- Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has refuted opposition claims of a plot orchestrated by his governing United Progressive Party to alter constituency boundaries in favour of the UPP.
“Absolutely not”, he told OBSERVER Media when asked directly if he believes the proposed changes would favour either of the country’s two main political parties.
“I don’t think that that is really the idea. The idea is to solve a problem that we have had in this country for years.”
The problem referred to by the prime minister relates to the size of constituencies.
He explained that reports submitted by observer missions from the Commonwealth and Caricom following several general elections have recommended that issues relating to boundaries be addressed because “some of them do not make any geographical sense.”
“Some of them are too large in comparison to others,” the prime minister stated. “So these are some of the things that the commission would want to, I imagine, to see to what extent they can recommend possible changes in terms of redistricting and making the thing look more realistic.”
On Monday, the opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) warned it is prepared to go to the courts to challenge the alterations that could affect St John’s Rural East, held by its political leader Lester Bird; St Phillip’s North, represented by Robin Yearwood; and St Mary’s North, represented by Molwyn Joseph.
Bird has called for consultations, while ALP representative on the Commission James “Jimmy” Fuller, described the suggested amendments as radical.
In response, commission chairman Clarence Crump said the delineation of constituencies is being considered fairly.
Spencer insists the matter is a work in progress, adding, “I don’t understand why these people are jumping up and making all this noise.”
“At some point the committee will submit a report for consideration. The matter would go to the Parliament of Antigua & Barbuda. It is at that point that we will have an opportunity to scrutinise and to decide finally what that is going to be,” he said.
The country’s leader added, “You’re not going to have everybody agreeing to everything but one thing I’m sure about is that there’s absolute necessity for a relook at the boundaries.”