Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell resigned from his post last evening, but most of the attendees at the Annual General Council rejected his decision.
At the same time though, the outcome is reportedly not sitting well with some party members who are saying the whole process was “not official and was flawed.”
Party insiders told OBSERVER media last night that the veteran politician “slapped” his hands on the table and announced his resignation at the meeting which started at 4:30 p.m., stating that he was keeping an earlier promise made ahead of the last general elections, to resign if the party lost.
Once he did that, his colleague and former party Chairman, Leon Chaku Symister moved a motion for a vote to be taken to decide if the resignation would be accepted.
Lovell remained in the room during the vote where “more than 90 percent of the members voted for him to remain by a show of hands,” one insider said.
And in the end, he “graciously accepted the results” and “nodded and waved to the crowd” another member said.
A few members who reportedly left the meeting “disappointed” said they do not accept the results but will move on.
“It was intimidating tactics and it was a well-orchestrated move. Why ask people to vote by a show of hands and not to vote by secret ballot? If you want to resign why come with an emotional speech saying that it was a matter of principle and all that? And why didn’t he do so in writing? The party is not attracting youth and the membership is not growing, we will remain where we are if we don’t change, very unpopular, and that is how we feel so some of us abstained and some left.”
The source alleged that some of the people who were allowed to vote were not actual members, but observers and this was “flawed.”
The meeting was held at the Union Hall on Newgate Street, which was packed with members from all 16 constituencies.
Meanwhile, the party did not ratify November 17 and 18 as the dates for its convention, another insider reported. The date is to be decided though, earlier yesterday, those were the dates that the party’s PRO, Damani Tabor, announced for the event.
“It was on the agenda and Jamal Pringle got up and asked that the Convention to be pushed back before going into the Convention. He said the party needs to patch its relationships first and the members agreed so the date is up in the air again,” another source disclosed.
So, far Leader of the (UPP) Opposition in the Senate, Senator Richard Lewis has announced his intention to vie for leadership. Lewis told our newsroom on Sunday that he has declared his intentions to the branches for them to nominate him if they so desire.
Yesterday AGC meeting was scheduled to discuss three matters: leadership of the party, the Caribbean Court of Justice/referendum and; finances.
The latter issue is of serious concern to members as the party is reportedly in “serious debt” and it is asking members to donate money to the party as it is limping along to try to reach the masses and compete with the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party which won 15 of the 17 seats at the last polls.
The UPP’s Jamal Pringle was the only one to win his seat and he currently serves as the leader of the opposition (UPP) in the Lower House.
There’s no indication, at least not publicly, that he would run for political leader.
Some party members last night said a silent “reshuffle” of the last set of candidates and caretakers is taking place, with Lovell himself registering in All Saints West where he is now a member of the branch, and a female is registering in St. John’s City East where Lovell ran and lost at the last general elections.
Other changes were mentioned but these “have not been made official”, a source said.
While the sources who spoke did so on condition of anonymity, the St. John’s City East Branch Chairman, Caudley George told OBSERVER media last night, “Harold Lovell’s decision to resign was not an easy one at all. The fact that the resignation was not accepted by more than 95 percent of the rank and file of the Party is an indication that there is unfinished work to do in righting in the many outstanding wrongs in the country. The people have clearly indicated that they want Harold to finish the job he had started and that is to get rid of the wicked Gaston Browne led Antigua labour party government. Lovell is fully supported by his City East Branch which has vowed to stand firmly with him always.”
In the March 21 election, this year, the UPP opposition party won a single seat, two less than it did in 2014. In the lead up to that same election there was a major split in the UPP with several of its stalwarts leaving to form the National Democratic Alliance (DNA) which failed to secure any seats in the election.
The Barbuda People’s Movement, which contested one seat, was successful at the polls.