Antigua Barbuda Labour Party, or ABLP, scored a crushing victory in Wednesday's parliamentary elections. Incumbent Prime Minister Gaston Browne was re-elected, winning a second term in office over his competitors Harold Lovell, head of the United Progressive Party (UPP), and Joanna Massiah, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
“The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God, and I am very pleased with the support you have given this institution, the ABLP during this very short campaign,” Browne said during his victory speech.
He added: “It will take some time to increase national incomes to make sure that we are on par with countries like the Bahamas and other high-income small island states. That is the objective that we have, to continue to improve the living standards of the people of Antigua and Barbuda, to make sure you have the capacity to own a home, to own a car, to get a scholarship.”
Browne noted that that the nation had secured three billion dollars in investments for the next two years. The money will go towards constructing a new cargo port and entertainment complex.
The Prime Minister went on to say: “No matter who you may have voted for, I offer you love and friendship... And I say to you I will work for you until I die. I will continue to work for your development."
The ABLP won a total of 15 seats in parliament, one more seat than the previous election. The remaining two seats were won by the UPP and DNA. Last month, Browne called the March 21-snap election, 18 months before they were due. The opposition UPP was ousted by Browne's ABLP in 2014 after the latter won 13 of the 17 seats.
Leading up to the election, Browne's ABLP has been plagued with accusations of intimidating opposition supporters; vote-buying, and attempting to prevent Barbudans from voting, according to the Jamaica Observer. All the accusations were denied and when asked for evidence members of the opposition were unable to proved actionable information.
Barbudans who returned home had to travel to Antigua to cast their votes. Most of Barbuda's 1,600 residents were evacuated to Antigua after last year's devastating hurricane season, which destroyed about 90 percent of the island, requiring some US$150 million for reconstruction and recovery.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda announced that the country's eight-year-old US$117.8-million International Monetary Fund loan would be fully paid up by Friday with a US$4.4 million payment to the organization.