The Deputy Political Leader of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP), Gaston Browne, has called for this year’s campaign to be driven by issues confronting the nation and not by character assassinations.
Browne shared the advice with the Antigua Sun yesterday as he acknowledged that he may have stepped out of line, at the ALP rally on Saturday, in his response to accusations Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer levied against him.
The accusations in question involve the prime minister’s stating that he (Browne) had foreign bank accounts with stolen money stashed away and injunctions on these accounts preventing the government from launching investigations.
Browne says that he had threatened legal action in response to these, but decided against it and is instead offering PM Spencer a chance to rectify the situation and admit that he was mistaken.
“This ‘character assassination’, for me, is the lowest form of gutter politics and…that has actually destroyed whatever semblance of respect I had for the Prime Minister,” he said. This loss of respect was what he said prompted his response.
Also, to add fuel to the fire, Browne recalled that he was interviewed by police officers when he arrived at his party’s rally last Saturday.
These officers, according to him, said both himself and Beenie Man would be arrested if the international recording artist took the stage to perform.
“I felt at the time that they (the government) were…stifling freedom of speech and I basically went out of line to prove…that we all have a right to freedom of speech, using very harsh language.”
Browne went on to state that he understood his words were a bit harsh and that he accepts responsibility for that. He expressed hopes that the rest of the campaigning would no longer be negative and instead based on the issues confronting the island – crime, poverty and high cost-of-living.
“I trust that today would signal a new day of ‘politics of issues’ instead of this politics of personalities that is tearing down our country.”