Sunday, Jul 21, 2019

Government denies seeking to prevent Antigua Minister from addressing opposition rally

Government denies seeking to prevent Antigua Minister from addressing opposition rally
25 Jun

The St. Kitts-Nevis government has sought to distant itself from allegations that it tried to pressure Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda into preventing his Education Minister, Michael S Browne, from addressing a rally of the main opposition party over the last weekend in St Kitts.
In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister accused the main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) of engaging in a “campaign of lies, innuendo and mischief to destabilize the country.
“For the public record, the said Minister arrived in St. Kitts and Nevis on a private political mission, and yet was warmly welcomed by a protocol officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and another officer who drove him to the Marriott Resort. The Minister was further assisted with his departure in a similar manner by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis. At no point before or after his arrival were any threats made or was anyone’s security at risk,” the statement added,

But the SKNLP in its statement said that it wanted to denounce the latest incident, accusing the Timothy Harris government of harbouring “dangerous, dictatorial, fascistic and narcissistic tendencies.

The party said that it was Browne, himself, who during the ceremony last Saturday informed the audience that during the early hours of that morning, Prime Minister Harris had called his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart expressing abhorrence that Browne had arrived here to speak at a rally where the opposition party’s candidate for the next general election would be introduced.

In a recording of the speech, Browne confirms the call had been made to Prime Minister Browne, adding “that soldiers are always best prepared when armed with information.

“So the charge was that my presence here, me coming here to speak, is a declaration of war,’ Browne said, adding that he was also concerned about his safety while in the twin island Federation.

“There was a boomeranging of thoughts in my mind all morning while I was on the strip, while I was having breakfast, while I was working the phones including with the good efforts of your comrade leader. And these are some of the concerns that troubled me coming from a democratic perspective.

“If Michael Browne speaks, not only will it be a demonstration, a declaration of war, but we will not be able to guarantee his safety. If he speaks, not only will we not be able to guarantee his safety but he may not be permitted to come back to St. Kitts,” he told the SKNLP supporters.

But in a radio interview here, Prime Minister Harris insisted that “the allegations are totally false and mischievous” but stop short of labelling the Antigua and Barbuda Education Minister a liar.

“To be fair to him, I have not heard what he has said, I have seen allegations being made coming from the (Denzil) Douglas Labour Party. I can’t verify what was said at that particular event, so I don’t want to get into a direct response into something that I heard,” he told WINNFM radio.

The statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said “it is unfortunate that in spite of kind courtesies in facilitating a Minister on his private political mission, the said allegations would emerge.

“The Office of the Prime Minister will not be drawn into a distraction of the moment.,” it added.


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