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Stuart to vote

PM acknowledges heightened expectations as Barbadians vote in general election

 
See Mottley’s take following…
Prepare for the results…

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 24, CMC –Prime Minister Freundel Stuart cast his ballot in the St. Michael South  constituency on Thursday acknowledging that there is “heightened expectations” in Barbados on the part of both the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

Stuart to vote
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on his way to cast his ballot

An estimated 255, 654 voters are eligible to cast ballots in the general election that is being held more than a month after the parliament here was automatically dissolved.

Stuart, who led the DLP into a 16-14 victory in the 2013 general elections, told reporters that he is aware that many Barbadians had come out to exercise their franchise and that “based on the reports I have received all the constituencies have seen a lot of activity.

“So far we seem to be having a peaceful election,” he told reporters after casting his ballot at Bayleys Primary School in St Philip, south of here.

“The contest between the two major parties has been a very hot one. This election was being looked forward to for some time. I think there is heightened expectation on both sides of the political divide. I certainly have in every speech I made in the campaign emphasise the importance of not staying home and therefore if there are long lines and people are coming out to vote that’s a welcome sign.

“It shows our democracy …is in good nick,” Stuart told reporters, adding that he thought there had been a good election period, making reference to the four week of campaigning.

“Difference between Barbados and many other jurisdictions…our election campaign tend to be peaceful and free.”

He acknowledged that “people express themselves vigorously and take a very strong position on behalf of the political party they support, but it never transcends the perimeter of decency and therefore our elections are very peaceful and the campaign a peaceful one,” he added.

“All the parties contested themselves I thought properly,” he said.

Stuart’s main challenger for his post, Mia Mottley, is due to cast her ballot later on Thursday.

Mottley says election will determine the future of Barbados

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 24, CMC – The leader of the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Mia Mottley, says Thursday’s general election will determine the future direction of Barbados.

DSC_0127
Mia Mottley, speaking to reporters after casting ballot

Mottley, who is seeking to become the first woman to become prime minister here, told reporters after casting her ballot in the St. Michael North East constituency, said she wanted to “thank Barbadians for heeding our call and coming out in their numbers.

“We are satisfied that they have done that, there has been a lot of passion on the part of people for their country,” she said, adding “it is the most significant election since independence and that this election will determine the direction of our country whether there is a new dawn or we continue or we continue along the current path”.

Mottley reiterated as she has done throughout the campaign that the state of the Barbados economy would be a priority for whichever party emerges victorious in Thursday’s general election.

While there are candidates from seven political parties contesting the 30 seats in the Parliament, political observers say the race is a straight contest between the BLP and the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

She said that last 10 years of DLP rule can be described as “the lost decade” adding “we are satisfied voters…do what is necessary to come out and vote”..

She said despite hiccups “Barbados has a tradition of being orderly and we want to maintain that as far as possible,”’ she said, adding that the party is using the proper legal channels to ensure that names that had been removed from the list are reinstated.

“More than anything else I want everybody to remain clam,” she said.

Mottley said that she remains confident, adding “what we saw this morning (turn out) is nothing short of phenomenal”.

“The Barbados Labour Party will emerge victorious because I genuinely believe we have the party with the better plan, the best team and that has been anchored and focus on the issues rthat the majority of Barbadians want in this campaign,” she added.

In the last general election, the DLP won by a slender two seat majority. And that was for a second consecutive term.

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Mottley Freundel

ELECTIONS-Barbadians vote for new government amid economic concerns

By Peter Richards

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 21, CMC – Barbadians go to the polls on Thursday to elect a new government amid growing economic concerns and the possibility of choosing a woman for the first time to lead a government in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

“We have done this country proud over the last 10 years, we have had to govern Barbados in the most challenging decade the western world has seen since the great depression and we have managed to not only keep Barbados stable but to ensure that those basic amenities to which Barbadians have become accustomed were made available to them on an uninterrupted basis,” said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, 66, who is leading his ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) into a general election for the second consecutive occasion.

Mottley Freundel
BLP Leader Mia Mottley and DLP Leader Freundel Stuart

But his main challenger, Mia Mottley, 52, an attorney, who heads the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), has dismissed Stuart’s record of achievement, telling voters that she is prepared to implement the stringent policies, including taking the island to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a bid to turn around the ailing economy.

“I said it before that we would do whatever is necessary, that is legal and moral, to rescue this country. Does that mean going to the IMF? It may, we don’t know. But when we get the results in the first few days (of taking office), we will be able to make the judgement,” said Mottley.

The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) earlier this month said that the local economy had contracted by an estimated 0.7 per cent during the first quarter of this year and warned that the outlook “remains challenging”.

CBB Governor, Cleviston Haynes, in a review of Barbados’ economic performance in the first quarter of 2018, said that the performance reflects the combined impact of a decline in real output in the tourism sector, the slowing of construction activity, the late start to the annual sugar harvest and the slowdown of domestic demand arising from the budgetary measures announced in the May 2017 budget.

The CBB said that while the supply of foreign exchange was more than adequate to meet market demand on a timely basis during the quarter, “higher public sector debt service obligations than usual contained the growth of international reserves at the Central Bank to BDS$14 million (One Barbados dollar = US$0.50 cents) for the period”.

The Central Bank said that decisive stabilisation measures that place the public finances on a sustainable path, alter the trajectory for the international reserves and create the conditions for strong durable growth are now needed in order to deal with the challenges ahead for the local economy.

But Stuart maintains that his administration has done much to revitalise the economy and has warned voters not to take a chance with their future.

“Having said that Barbados is in the poorest state that it has ever been in, since Universal Adult Suffrage or since Independence, the Barbados Labour Party is now coming to give the impression to the people, that the same Barbados that is on its knees, can afford all the give-aways that they are promising.

BLP Supporters2018
BLP supporters

“Mia Mottley has stood up in the House of Assembly on many occasions and said that the problem with Barbados is that we are running a government that we cannot afford. And although we can’t afford it, according to her, she is now coming with measures that would require us to spend even more than is being spent now. But, spending more by earning less,” he told party supporters.

However, Mottley, who is aiming to emulate the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Portia Simpson Miller in Jamaica and Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago in heading governments in a predominately male dominated Caribbean political landscape, insists that “change is in sight in this country.

“I have not come to lie to the people of Barbados, I have come to talk to you and with you . . . . All that we have seen is that Freundel Stuart would do anything to be able to say that, ‘I did not go to the IMF. I did not carry Barbados to the IMF,’ she added.

The election here on Thursday is already historic for more than one reason.

Stuart himself said that “history is not made by things happening the same way all the time” and that it is “made by doing things differently” as he defended the decision not to name a date for the general election when the Parliament was automatically dissolved earlier this year.

“I did not dissolve it deliberately and of course, the experts have been giving expressions of their surprise. This is the first time in Barbados history that a Parliament was allowed to stand dissolved by the effluxion of time, that is how history is made,” he said.

The 2018 election has attracted a record 135 candidates representing various political parties and independents. There are 37 women and 98 men and for the first time in Barbados political history, two political parties, the BLP and United Progressive Party (UPP) are being led into an election by women.

However, despite the increased number of political parties and candidates, only the DLP and the BLP have nominated candidates to contest all 30 constituencies, with some such as the Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM), fielding just one candidate.

DLPThe courts have also featured in the run-up to the general election. Commonwealth citizens, who have been resident here for more than three years went as far as the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – Barbados highest court – seeking to have their names included on the voters list.

“The long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors … is unlawful and ultra vires. The Court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” The CCJ ruled, threatening to jail the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, if she failed to obey the ruling.

No public opinion poll has been released here, less than 96 hours before the general population cast their ballot at the polling stations across the island.

But political commentators say that history does not really favour the DLP in the election. They noted that never in the history of this Caribbean island since it attainted political independence from Britain in 1996, has a government failed to obtain anything more than a 10-year term in office.

Director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, who has conducted several polls throughout the region, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that, while no official poll has been commissioned, he believes there will be a change in government.

“Historically, the Barbados Labour Party has on average received a four to five per cent swing and if they are able to get at least that as an average performance historically, you looking at an additional four to five seats.

“But my sense is that they will get considerably more than a five per cent swing,” he told CMC, noting that there seems to be widespread support for Mottley in succeeding Stuart as the new head of government.

But he also acknowledged that if the DLP is able to “mitigate that swing and achievement any improvement in its fortunes it would create history in as much the same way the BLP did in 1999”.

Stuart came to office after succeeding David Thompson, who died on 23 October 2010 and three years later, Barbadian voters kept with tradition and provided the incumbent DLP party with a second consecutive term in power following a nerve jangling general elections.

On that occasion, Stuart’s DLP won by a 16-14 margin, defeating former prime minister Owen Arthur, who has now warned that regardless of which political party forms the new government on Thursday, stringent policies will have to be implemented to resuscitate the ailing economy.

“There are fundamental issues concerning the economy that Barbados has to address: I do not think that people quite appreciate what is the importance of the last report of the governor of the Central Bank,” Arthur, 68, one of the longest serving prime ministers, told a press conference.

Arthur, who announced his retirement from politics earlier this year, said the incoming government will have to “invent an alternative reality… any government that wants to be serious… cannot talk in terms of coming into office and taking the people (for a ride)…

“You cannot give away what you do not have, and unless something is done quickly to stabilise this economy, the Barbados economy is going to go under.”

The BLP is promising not to devalue the island’s currency, leaving it pegged at the exchange rate of two dollars to one United States dollar.

However, it has said that the strategy for boosting foreign exchange reserves would have “many facets.

“We will prohibit the Central Bank from printing money without parliamentary approval. We will allow all who earn foreign exchange to keep foreign currency accounts in local banks. We will attract new inward investment through a range of of policies including developing Heritage Bridgetown as a Smart and Creative City…we will incentivise the private sector to build new islands off Barbados,” the party has promised in its manifesto.

For its part, the DLP is promising to reduce the tax burdens on citizens by “growing the economy.

“As the economy grows, tax collections from wages and salaries and from the sale of goods and services will increase. Government revenue therefore rises without further increases in tax rates. Sustained growth in the economy and in tax collections will enable government to actually reduce tax rates over time,” the DLP said.

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Wendy C Grenade

University lecturer commends ruling of CCJ

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 21, CMC –A senior lecturer at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has welcomed the ruling of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) regarding the registration of Commonwealth citizens to be included in the voters list ahead of the May 24 general election here.

Wendy C Grenade
Wendy C Grenade

St. Lucian academic, Professor Eddy Ventose had challenged the decision of the electoral authorities here to deny him the opportunity to be registered even though he has been resident in the country for several years. The matter was heard during an unprecedented sitting of the Court, two Sundays ago.

In its ruling, the CCJ, which is Barbados’s final court, said that the “long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors … is unlawful and ultra vires.

“The Court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” the CCJ ruled, threatening to jail the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, if she failed to obey the ruling.

Dr. Wendy C Grenade, a senior lecturer in Political Science in the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology, said the “CCJ must be commended for acting with a sense of urgency in the Ventose case.

“Its responsiveness in dispensing justice to Professor Ventose and by extension to other Commonwealth Caribbean citizens in Barbados, must be applauded. The CCJ also promoted transparency in its deliberations by utilising technology to livestream the court session.

“This was a sophisticated act of techno-democracy, where the CCJ bridged the divide between itself and ordinary Caribbean people. The virtual court demystified lofty judicial proceedings. This was quite refreshing and reassuring, particularly for some who question the efficacy of the CCJ,” she said.

The lecturer said that the rule of law is a central pillar of any well-functioning democracy and that when state officials ignore or seek to frustrate rulings of the court, justice is denied and democratic norms are ruptured.

“The CCJ must be commended for demonstrating its judicial independence by protecting the rights of Commonwealth Caribbean citizens from the arbitrary exercise of power by a Caribbean state.

“The CCJ’s warning that Barbados’ Chief Electoral Officer will be imprisoned and/or fined if she does not comply with its ruling, sends a strong signal of its seriousness of purpose and its intention to apply the full extent of the law to ensure justice for Caribbean citizens. It also demonstrates that the state is not above the law and that state officials can be held accountable for their actions.”

She said that the Ventose case is also significant because it demonstrates the importance of judicial review as a critical means through which citizens can claim legal redress against laws or policies that infringe on their rights.

“Judicial review is a powerful weapon available to citizens in their battle for rights and justice. One can argue that, given the remoteness of the Privy Council and the relatively high costs associated with taking matters to the UK-based court, judicial review has not been a norm in the Caribbean’s legal praxis.

“However, the proximity of the CCJ to the Caribbean’s reality, provides impetus for increased citizen activism through judicial review. Professor Ventose must be complimented for channelling his legal skill to an activist cause,” she added.

The lecturer said that beyond the legal question, a major implication of the Ventose judgement is that Caribbean people who reside in other Caribbean territories must feel a sense of belonging to the Caribbean sister state where they live, work and pay taxes.

“The right to vote, as contentious as it may be, is one of the most cherished democratic rights, particularly for people whose history has been replete with oppression and denial of suffrage. The CCJ’s judgement in this case has affirmed the enfranchisement of the Caribbean “other”.

“Fifty odd years after independence, it is encouraging that an indigenous Caribbean Court can do so. This renews hope in the promise of regionalism.

“The ruling in this case is a victory not only for Commonwealth Caribbean citizens in Barbados but for Caribbean jurisprudence, Caribbean democracy and regional integration. It reinforces the urgency for other CARICOM countries to put systems in place to accede to the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction.’ To date, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have done so, although, except for the Bahamas, Haiti and Montserrat, all other CARICOM countries are members of the CCJ in its original jurisdiction.

The Grenada-born lecturer said that importantly, “this landmark judgement is most timely for Grenada as that country seeks to re-open the conversation on another referendum to facilitate Grenada’s accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, replacing the UK-based Privy Council as Grenada’s highest Court of Appeal”.

She said the case “highlights several benefits of the CCJ, which should be the catalyst of a YES campaign going forward”.

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Commonwealth Citizens Finally Added To Electoral List in Barbados

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday May 15, 2018 – Four Commonwealth citizens living in Barbados who had been fighting to get their names on the list of registered voters have now been included, giving them the opportunity to vote in the May 24 general elections.Their inclusion came yesterday, after Chief Electoral Officer Angela Taylor complied with a Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) order handed down in an unprecedented Sunday sitting.

The Trinidad-based CCJ gave Taylor until noon yesterday to ensure that St Lucian professor Eddy Ventose was registered, or be found in contempt of court and risk imprisonment and/or a fine.

Attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls, who was on the legal team representing Ventose, the principal applicant in a class action suit against the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) that also included Grenadian Shireen Ann Mathlin-Tulloch, Jamaican Michelle Russell, and Montserratian Sharon Edgcome-Miller, disclosed that Taylor had done as the court demanded.

“All of the litigants in the matter have been registered and have received confirmation that they are on the voters’ list,” he told online newspaper Barbados Today.

In an emergency CCJ session on Sunday, a five-member panel headed by CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron said it was satisfied that Ventose, a professor at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), had satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector.

Professor Ventose had stated that he was qualified and entitled to be registered to vote but his registration was consistently refused. The Court of Appeal in Barbados last Tuesday ruled that he was qualified to be registered to vote, but stopped short of compelling Sealy to enroll him on the register of voters, only giving the electoral chief 24 hours to make a determination on his application.

When she failed to register him, Professor Ventose asked the CCJ to declare that he was entitled to be registered to vote and to order the CEO to enter his name on the final voters’ list ahead of its publication this week.

In delivering the ruling, Sir Dennis expressed the view that the CCJ’s decision should also resolve the matter for other Commonwealth citizens, resident in Barbados for the relevant qualifying period, who are also claiming a right to be registered as voters under the Barbados laws.

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CCJ rules St Lucian academic should be registered to vote in B’dos elections

CCJ rules St Lucian academic should be registered to vote in B’dos elections

By CMC

 

Eddy Ventose

(CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sunday ruled that a St Lucian-born academic should be registered as an elector to cast a ballot in the May 24 general elections in Barbados and warned the Chief Elections Officer that failure to carry out the order by midday tomorrow could land her in jail for contempt of court or be fined.

In an unprecedented hearing, the CCJ, which is the Barbados final court, said that Eddy Ventose, a professor of law at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), had satisfied “the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector”.

In the ruling of the five-member panel of judges, read out by the CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron, the court told Angela Taylor, the Chief Electoral Officer “shall register or cause the applicant to be registered as an elector before 12 noon on Monday, the 14th day of May, 2018”.

Dennis said that if Taylor ‘does not comply with the order, you may be held to be in contempt of court and you may be imprisoned and or fined”.

Barbadians go to the polls on May 24 to elect a new government with the contest expected to be between the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) headed by Mia Mottley, who is seeking to become the first woman head of government in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

Election day workers, including police, will cast their ballots on May 17.

Political observers had said that the matter before the CCJ, which is Barbados’ highest court, has implications not only for the appellant but also for Commonwealth citizens, living in Barbados, who want to be registered to vote in the general elections.

Ventose, who has lived in Barbados for several years, sought to be included on the Barbados electoral register. He had alleged that under the prevailing laws he is qualified and entitled to be registered.

The Court of Appeal last week ruled that Ventose was entitled to be registered to vote but stopped short of compelling the chief electoral officer to do so, instead, ordering the chief electoral officer to determine Professor Ventose’s claim within 24 hours.

Ventose had asked the CCJ to declare that his name should be on the final voters’ list ahead of its publication this week.

The CCJ said that the request for appeal came late Friday and it responded by scheduling the hearing for Sunday.

Dennis said the application for special leave to appeal filed on Friday had been granted as well as the application “to treat this hearing as an urgent matter.

“The application for special leave to appeal is being treated as the substantive hearing of the appeal,” he said, adding “the appeal is allowed and the orders of the Court of Appeal are set aside”.

Dennis said that the CCJ is satisfied that the applicant has locus standi…under the Administrative Justice Act …to bring judicial review application under Section three of the act. “The long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors… is unlawful and ultra vires.

“The court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” Dennis said.

The costs for this court and the court below were awarded to the appellant.

 

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Lovell UPP

Opposition party preparing for next general election in 2023

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 27, CMC – The leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell, says the party has started the process of preparing itself for the next general elections, a few days after it suffered a near total whitewash in a general election in Antigua and Barbuda.

Lovell UPP
Harold Lovell

Lovell, who was among the casualties when the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) won a convincing 15-2 victory in the March 21 poll, said the party needs to do “deep searching and we have to make certain we are prepared for the next election”.

The UPP won just one seat in the election down from the three it had following the 2014 general election. The other seat was won by Trevor Walker of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM).

Lovell, who has not been named among the Opposition Senators in the new Parliament, said “the process of getting ourselves on track for 2023 or when it (general election) is called, that process has started”.

He said that the party was also seeking to determine just how many votes it had accumulated in last Wednesday’s general election, noting that its figures are different that those put released by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC).

“The Electoral Commission has posted it at 14, 440. So I have been in touch with somebody at the Electoral Commission drawing their attention to the fact that our numbers are different to theirs. We will try to have that remedy over the next day or two,” he said.

He said the party had a person from one of the key accounting firms here “double check it for us and that person came up with just over 15,000”.

Lovell, who led the UPP into a general election for the first time on Wednesday, has not indicated whether he intends to step down following the defeat.

But Barbados-based regional political scientist, Peter Wickham, said his absence from the senate, is a wise move by the party.

“The names I’m hearing sound like they are reflective of a level of political maturity. I think it is wise for Mr. Lovell not to take up a seat, and I think it probably signals a concession on his part that he will not be part of the UPP’s politics going forward,” Wickham told the Antigua Observer newspaper.

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Jumaane D. Williams

Caribbean American legislator condemns question on citizenship included in 2020 Census

NEW YORK, Mar 28, 2018, CMC –New York City Council member, Jumaane D. Williams,  has condemned the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

“I am a first generation American, the son of Grenadian immigrants. I represent a community of immigrants, in a city of immigrants, in a state and nation of immigrants. Each is immensely proud of their heritage, just as they are proud of their new home in the United States,” said Williams, who represents the largely Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, New York.

Jumaane D. Williams
Jumaane D. Williams (File Photo)

“Given the onslaught of unrelenting unwarranted, bigoted attacks on immigrants from our government in the last 14 months, it is egregiously clear that the Trump administration’s appalling move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is designed to serve one of two purposes,” said Williams, a candidate for Lt. Governor in New York State, the second highest position in the state.

“Either the Trump administration and its allies want to collect information on immigrants with the intent of carrying out heinous programs, or they hope to create a pervasive fear that will discourage immigrant populations from participating in the census, and so damaging democracy by denying fair representation in government for diverse communities like the one I represent,” Williams told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

He said no matter the intent, “this action continues what we know to be the Trump administration’s primary driving policy goal- to create an ‘other,’ a second class, and to exploit that division, separation and inherent bigotry.

“We have a moral obligation to stand with and support our immigrant communities against this nationalist, xenophobic, supremacist and hateful agenda that threatens the very ideals of being an American.”

Williams said the fears of this and other recent actions, and the context in which they were taken, “are rightfully alarming.

“The demonizing and discounting of the ‘other’ happens not suddenly but through incremental and steady changes to law and policy. The threat to our immigrant communities is real, imminent, and cannot be ignored.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also condemned the Trump administration’s latest move.

“We already strongly suspect that urban populations like Brooklyn have been chronically undercounted, and President Trump’s call for a citizenship question in the 2020 US Census will further undercut the accuracy of this critical count by discouraging the participation of immigrant Americans,” Adams said.

“This decennial process is hard enough without putting additional barriers in place. I thank (New York) Attorney General Schneiderman for bringing a lawsuit against this misguided policy on behalf of all New Yorkers.

Adams said In the months ahead, his administration will work in partnership with community-based groups throughout the borough to make certain that all residents are accurately reflected in the census.

“It’s time for Brooklyn to ensure we receive the representation and resources that we are entitled to and deserve.”

Schneiderman said he is heading a lawsuit by at least 12 US states in an attempt to prohibit the Trump administration from adding the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

New York and the other states say the initiative would patently violate the US Constitution.

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EU

High-level European Union delegation to visit Antigua and Barbuda

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar. 25, CMC –  A high-level delegation from the European Union (EU) is scheduled to visit Antigua and Barbuda this week as part of a visit to the region.

Headed by Director General for International Cooperation and Development Aid, Stefano Manservisi, the team also comprises Director for External Affairs for Latin America, Hugo Sobral as well as two representatives based at the EU Delegation for the Eastern Caribbean based in Barbados.

EUThis includes The EU’s ambassador to Barbados and the OECS, Daniela Tramacere, based in Bridgetown.

Shortly after arriving on Tuesday afternoon the group will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Gaston Browne, before traveling to Barbuda for a first hand assessment of the situation on the ground following the passage of Hurricane Irma.

The visit is likely to be the first for a foreign delegation since the Gaston Browne Administration was returned to office following the recent general elections.

In a statement the EU said the delegation will use the opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.

Following the devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma last September, the EU has made available 5 million (Euros) to finance home reconstruction on Barbuda. The project covers repair/construction of private homes using disaster resilient construction techniques and materials as well as a programme to educate residents of the island on more resilient construction techniques.

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Maria Browne takes oath of office

Antigua’s new 13-member cabinet sworn into office

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar. 22, CMC –  An expanded Gaston Browne cabinet has been sworn in following the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party’s landslide victory at Wednesday’s general election.

Maria Browne takes oath of office
Maria Browne takes oath of office

Among the new faces is Browne’s wife, Maria, who successfully contested the St John’s Rural East seat once held by her uncle – Sir Lester Bird.

The Prime Minister will retain the finance portfolio within the 13 member cabinet,  while his wife will serve as Minister for Housing, Lands, and Urban Renewal and as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Public Safety and Labour.

The representative from St Peter and former Tourism minister Asot Michael returns to the cabinet after being ousted following an arrest in the United Kingdom in relation to a bribery investigation.
Although he was later released without charge, Browne promptly relieved him of his ministerial duties.

Sir Robin Yearwood would retain the Public Utilities Civil Aviation Energy portfolio, Melford Nicholas will hold on to the Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Information Technology ministry, while Michael Browne will remain at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Molwyn Joseph will have responsibility for the newly-styled Ministry of Health, Wellness and Environment, while
E.P. Chet Greene will relinquish the Ministry of Sports, Culture, National Festivals and the Arts in exchange for a new assignment at Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Immigration.

Newcomer Daryll Matthew will assume Greene’s former post. Matthew comfortably won the St John’s Rural South seat after his first outing as an ABLP candidate.

Samantha Marshall is retained as Minister for Social Transformation Human Resource Development Youth and Gender Affairs and Charles “Max” Fernandez, who previously had responsibility for Tourism, Foreign Affairs and Immigration, now serves as Minister for Tourism, Economic Development.
Dean Jonas, who was just given his second term as the St George MP, now receives a cabinet appointment as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs.
Lennox Weston, a senator and minister of state in the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance in the last administration, will retain that ministerial portfolio and Public Works has been added to his responsibilities.

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Jamale Pringle

UPP lone successful candidate appointed Opposition Leader

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 24, CMC – Veteran politician Trevor Walker said he was not approached for the position of Opposition Leader in the new Parliament after the lone successful candidate of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Jamale Pringle was sworn in on Friday.

Walker, who has contested several general elections, won the lone seat on Barbuda during Wednesday’s general election that Prime Minister Gaston Browne called more than a year ahead of the constitutional deadline.

Jamale Pringle
Jamale Pringle

Browne led his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) to a convincing 15-2 victory.

Walker, who returns to parliament four years after being defeated by the ABLP candidate, Arthur Nibbs, said that the appointment of Opposition Leader ‘was neither here nor there.

“It was not up to me or Mr. Pringle unless we got together and decided who gets the position,” he said, adding “had I been offered the position, I probably would not have taken it.

“It’s neither here nor there for me. The people of Barbuda sent me to Parliament to do a job and I am going to do it regardless of whether I am Opposition leader or not.

“I am not hell bent on it. I just pledge to do my very best in the Parliament, to work and represent the people of Barbuda. I want to focus on Barbuda and getting certain things done, their rebuilding efforts and sorting out the land situation,” he added.
Barbuda was heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma when the category 5 storm roared through the Caribbean last September, resulting in voters on the sister isle having to cast their ballots in Antigua.

Walker had unsuccessfully challenged that decision by the Antigua and Barbuda electoral Commission (ABEC).

Pringle narrowly defeated the ABLP Colin James by 10 votes in the All Saints East and St Luke constituency – a UPP stronghold.

Pringle’s appointment came as UPP political leader Harold Lovell broke his silence on the party’s dismal performance at the polls. Lovell did not make a statement on election night, but in his statement on Friday,  issued through the party’s public relations officer, thanked everyone who played a part in the campaign and offered his congratulations to the winning party.

“To Mr. Gaston Browne and the ABLP, let me offer my congratulations. We live in a democracy, and the majority has spoken. The people have once again given you the mandate to take the country forward, and I wish you well, because in the end it is all the people who will benefit if things are done properly,” he stated.

In keeping with the UPP’s campaign theme, he told supporters there’s always hope and that the campaign did not end on election night.

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