Following Thursday’s election marred by a late start at some polling stations, Baldwin Spencer was sworn in Friday morning as Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda by Governor General Dame Louis Lake-Tack after his United Progressive Party created history by being the first two term government outside of the Antigua Labour party.
On Friday morning one member of the Electoral Commission, Bishop Ewing Dorsett tended his resignation over the poor handling of the poll and called on his fellow commission to do the same.
Under the Antigua and Barbuda constitution, the Attorney General, Justin Lockhard Simon, QC, was sworn in ahead of other cabinet members.
ALP leader and former prime minister, Lester Bird, who lost in 2004, regained a seat in the House by defeating finance minister Dr. Errol Cort by 98 votes.
Spencer’s first move was to declare a public holiday as UPP supporters celebrated the 9-8 victory which was by a significantly reduced margin compared to the 2004 poll when the UPP and its affiliate Barbuda People’s Movement carried 13 of the 17 seats (16 on Antigua) in the twin-island state.
Walker, won the single sister isle seat by one vote.
In the 2004 election the UPP got 12 of the 16 Antigua seats to the ALP’s four with the Barbuda seat going to Walker after a runoff caused by a tie.
Celebrations broke out late on Thursday night when it became clear that the UPP would win a majority but the country had to wait until early Friday morning to learn that the ALP political leader and former prime minister Bird had won his seat from former finance minister Dr. Errol Cort by 98 votes. Another winner was former Finance and Tourism Minister, Molwyn Joseph who was joined by another ALP candidate, Eustace Lake in the surprise gains.
Some 70 percent of the 53,000 eligible voters turned out with the UPP winning some 53 percent of the popular vote while the ALP attracted the support of about 42 percent.
Voting day was characterised by the late start at most polling stations because the voter ID lists were not ready.
The Electoral Commission confirmed that their main printing system collapsed under the load of preparing overnight some 5,000 voter IDs. Commission Chairman Sir Gerald Watt apologised for the near five hour delay in some polling stations. He also apologised to Lester Bird for apparent disrespect when he was not accommodated ahead of the long lines at the voting station in his constituency. Sir Gerald pointed out that the Commission had agreed that all candidates would have been allowed to get ahead of the line when they wished to vote.
Compiled from reports by Julian Rogers, News Channel Caribbean, in St John’s, Antigua