Two people who were called out by Prime Minister Gaston Browne for allegedly obstructing developmental projects for Antigua & Barbuda has responded to the prime minister’s claims, which have also sparked public outrage.
Attorney-at-Law Ralph Francis said he is “not at all bothered” by the recent statements made by the prime minister during a recent appearance on an OBSERVER Radio programme, while Old Road Community Leader Jameson Kublai Mannix is of the view the prime minister is employed by the people and he “should and must” seek their approval before engaging in any major developmental project.
Browne on Monday fingered Francis, who happens to be the lawyer representing the Barbuda People’s Movement (BMP) which is seeking to overturn the controversial March 2 vote in favour of the Paradise Found Project.
“I want to assure you that if those who took that particular project to court lose, they have to pay every red cent otherwise we are going to bankrupt them. A firm message has to be sent,” the prime minister warned.
Browne said the government will be putting up a fierce battle against such people whom he described as ‘economic terrorists’ who are blocking investments and retarding the country’s progress.
In Mannix’ case, Browne indicated that a consultation held two weeks ago in Old Road was not to get approval for the Callaloo Cay project earmarked for Morris Bay, but to address the community’s concerns.
In his response Mannix said: “It is right for us to ask the government to do an EIA (environmental impact assessment) on any and every major project they are dealing with because what they have done is to make commitment on a project without doing proper due diligence. They now have to go back to do what they should have done in the first place.”
Readers on www.antiguaobserver.com also condemned the prime minister’s statements.
Over 35 contributors indicated that Browne is seeking to threaten democracy.
“Gaston, this is not China. People have a right to protest. Please do not threaten democracy. If what they did was illegal, then prosecute to fullest extent of the law. If what they did was not illegal then you should apologise for labeling them “economic terrorist”. You lose my respect with that one,” a contributor, De Ras said.
While another stated: “I believe the PM choice of words in labelling those concern(ed) citizens as “economist terrorist” is totally uncalled for! How his government expects ‘democracy’ to work if they want no opposition? Remember, history (does) repeat itself in our ‘politricks’ when it comes to ‘wrong-and-strong.’ In opposition, the PM would have a problem with former PM Spencer calling protesters ‘criminals.’ I guess in power our politicians will continue to use all sort of tactics to undermine anyone challenging their ‘power and authority.’