Antigua and Barbuda will hold parliamentary elections on March 21, according to an announcement made by Prime Minister Gaston Browne during a party rally late Saturday.
Browne said the early legislative elections come to protect the many plans his Antigua Labour Party, ALP, has programed for this year and the and next. “We have an opportunity at this point to consolidate the leadership of this country, to provide investors with predictability, to prove stability, to provide continuity, and that's the main reason why we're going to the polls early,” Browne told a cheering crowd of supporters.
The prime minister already asked the governor general to dissolve the current parliament by Feb. 26. Then, Browne will issue the official call of elections by Tuesday, giving the required minimum amount of days notice for elections.
After he announced the elections date, an emotional crowd burst into cheers and applause. He also introduced the 17 candidates proposed by his party. The elections were not constitutionally due until June 2019, according to Caribbean 360.
Browne had previously declared he would call for the next elections "within weeks," answering to radio announcers saying elections wouldn't happen before november.
The Antigua Labour Party has been the major ruling force in Antigua and Barbuda since Universal Suffrage was installed in 1951. They regained parliament majority in 2014 after nearly 10 years as the main opposition.
Residents of Barbuda, despite continuing recovery efforts after Category 5 Hurricane Irma, destroying over 90 percent of building structures, will be able to vote from their local constituency.
Charlesworth Tabor, an attorney, said “There is nothing preventing” the people of Barbuda from voting on their island", according to the Antigua Observer. “It is not an electronic election where you need internet access and you need electricity. It is a manual exercise.”