St. John’s Antigua- Supporters at a public rally of the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) were vocal to the point of disturbance, Thursday night in Cashew Hill, when they picketed the executive of the party over its perceived choice of a candidate for the St Mary’s North Constituency.
About 10 placard-bearing, UPP T-shirt wearing supporters waved their homemade signs to show their disapproval of the candidate rumoured to contest the seat, Chester Hughes.
The placards came in two varieties, “No Chester” and “We need Dr Philmore Benjamin.”
Speculation is rife that the UPP’s core has all but endorsed Hughes, the current member of Parliament for All Saint East and St Luke, but some of the supporters, who turned up Thursday, are throwing their support behind Dr Benjamin.
Picketers told OBSERVER Media that among the reasons they favour Benjamin is because of his compassionate nature.
“… I have confidence inna Doctor Benjamin that he can do what haffu do fuh mi village,” one Cashew Hill resident of over four decades said.
“Mi really angry about it to tell you the truth now and mi believe in Doctor Benjamin and me just surprise to see this man just come pon de scene,” the UPP supporter said, adding that he receives free medical treatment from the doctor.
Nalda Jarvis, who was also part of the nearly 10-member team which also included children, said she was standing behind the medical doctor because of his respectability.
“Dr Benjamin is a respectable gentleman and he is a man for the youth,” she said. “He is very much interested in the youth’s to see that they get work to do.
“I have been around and the people, especially the younger people, want Dr Benjamin to run in this constituency,” Jarvis said.
Although speakers tried their best, it was difficult to pretend that the picketers were not there, with their cardboard paraphernalia waving high.
Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro cautioned those involved in the act to guard against sending the wrong message about the party.
She said there was already a democratic process in place for candidate selection.
“When the time comes, the right person will come in and you will make the right decision. We have unity and tonight is not the night for that and we can deal with that inside,” Quinn –Leandro urged supporters.
Hughes, who was the centre of the picket, chose not to respond and successfully avoided discussing the issue even as he addressed the political meeting.
“Let us join forces as a people in St Mary’s North. Let us unite and fight together,” he urged.
The United Progressive Party, as well as The Antigua Labour Party, have not yet released the names of the candidates who will run in the next general elections due 2014.