Unnamed persons within the United Progressive Party (UPP) are alleging that there is money in the public domain – ‘filthy lucre’ – intended to entice voters to stay away from the polls and not exercise their franchise. According to these individuals requesting anonymity, the plan is to target known Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) supporters that are particularly poor and vulnerable. Huge sums of money are said to have been offered targeting voters in marginal constituencies in a way unheard of in the history of election campaigns in Antigua and Barbuda.
It was on May 12th, that I wrote an article recalling a conversation with a UPP operative who attempted to coerce me into working for a UPP candidate and, that I would be rewarded following the elections. “We will take care of you,” he assured me. The point of interest in the article centred around the operative’s statement that the UPP was going to ‘do something’ in order to win the elections. At the time I did not know what he meant by that ominous statement. However, I am getting some glimpses of what the UPP’s cleet may have been plotting in the darkest reaches of the Command Centre.
Interestingly, about a week after that article, the UPP-linked CASURO organisation published what it purported to be the results of its sampling of the opinion of the people living on Antigua of their political party of choice ahead of the June 12 polls. Just around that time, a number of UPP supporters attempted to convince me that their party was gaining momentum. I did suggest to one that clearly I understood the notion of ‘push and pull’, a technique used to sell a particular product or idea. In my mind that was clearly the purpose of the CASURO findings.
I have now been caught flatfooted by things being revealed to me and to others over the past week. When the UPP released its 2014 manifesto, it promised to sell off several state-owned enterprises including APUA telephone and telecoms departments. Reports are that these departments have already been sold surreptitiously to a foreign telecommunications company operating in Antigua and Barbuda.
Word is that this company is so pleased with the obvious giveaway that it has pumped US$1 million into the coffers of the UPP for electioneering usages. Just Wednesday, a man who lives in one of the constituencies bordering St John’s, and who is making some expansion to his home, received a call from the UPP candidate for the area offering to finance all the plumping works for the expansion. I myself am investigating another report where at least six people in another urban constituency received $2,000.00 each in exchange for their I.D cards.
What is particularly strange is that CASURO said the UPP is winning the elections as it supposedly enjoys an eight point lead. If that is so, why is the party going to such lengths and depths hitherto unheard of in the annals of electioneering in Antigua and Barbuda to corrupt the electoral process by spreading this filthy lucre? Does this mean that the UPP does not believe its pioneered CASURO poll? For the untainted eye, this smacks of desperation.
Then on Wednesday afternoon, I went to my usual eatery and it being late in the afternoon, the food area was deserted. The young lady as soon as she saw me shouted out: “Everton, I want my driver’s licence!” I asked her what she meant and, it was then that she explained that there are reports of driver’s licences being given out to young people in exchange for their voter ID cards so as to prevent them from participating in the voting exercise.
If these things are happening, then all of Antigua and Barbuda ought to be concerned. Because accidents caused by ill-equipped drivers will not differentiate between ABLP supporters or UPP supporters. There are more and more reported claims of these destructive and disdainful practices that are coming forward. Many people are seemingly prepared to state their names publicly; and therefore the claims ought not to be dismissed lightly by law abiding citizens nor by the authorities.
It is clear that whatever momentum the UPP operatives, including CASURO, is purporting about the level of popularity the party enjoys, is not real. Whatever support the party may have received outside its base may very well be linked to the spread of this filthy lucre. The Electoral Commission’s deputy chairman, Nathaniel Paddy James, is on record stating that bribing voters is a crime in Antigua and Barbuda. Take heed!
press release by caribtimes.com