1st November, 2017
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (WIC News) – The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda has said that Asot Michael will not be allowed to stand for the ABLP if charged following his arrest in London last week.
The former tourism, economic development, investment and energy minister was detained after arriving at Gatwick airport on 23 October, and promptly stripped of his ministerial role.
He was arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency as part of an investigation into bribery in the Caribbean.
Police, the NCA and the Forming Office have declined to comment.
Despite local and regional criticism of Prime Minister Gaston Browne for the unceremonious dumping of Michael, he has defended his conduct – and now appears to be looking to a future without the veteran politician by his side.
“If criminal charges are brought against former minister Michael he shall not be the candidate for St Peter on the Labour Party slate for the next general election,” Browne said in an interview with the government-run ABS TV.
The prime minister stressed that he was not making assumptions about Michael’s innocence or guilt but that his actions were “good governance”.
“I would have acted correctly and promptly to ensure the integrity of my government was not brought into disrepute.”
His arrest was enough to relieve Michael of his responsibilities, Browne added, whether temporarily or otherwise.
In the first statement since his arrest, the St Peter MP denied any wrongdoing.
He said that Browne had not spoken to him prior to his dismissal, and that the decision was based on “misinformation”.
Since then, emails leaked from the UK’s Foreign Office suggest that his detention was far from standard protocol, and are in fact linked to a much bigger – and serious – investigation into corruption.
The head of Caribbean department in the Foreign Office has suggested that charges could still be brought.
Caption: Asot Michael, left, Gaston Browne, right