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33. Antigua & Barbuda (1981-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (November 1, 1981-present):  Antigua & Barbuda formally achieved its independence from Britain as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) on November 1, 1981.  Vere Cornwell Bird, Sr. of the Antigua Labor Party (ALP) was sworn in as prime minister, and Sir Wilfred Ebenezer Jacobs was re-designated as Governor-General of Antigua & Barbuda on November 1, 1981.  Parliamentary elections were held on April 17, 1984, and the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) won 16 out of 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  Vere Cornwell Bird, Sr. of the ALP formed a new government as prime minister on April 19, 1984.  The National Democratic Party (NDP) and the United People’s Movement (UPM) merged to form the United National Democratic Party (UNDP) in April 1986.  Vere Bird, Jr., son of Prime Minister Vere C. Bird, Sr., was appointed as Minister on Public Works and Communications on January 1, 1987.

Parliamentary elections were held on March 9, 1989, and the ALP won 15 out of 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  The United National Democratic Party (UNDP) and the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) each won one seat in the House of Representatives.  The High Court of Antigua & Barbuda nullified the election results in one of the districts won by the ALP, and six winning ALP candidates resigned their seats before the High Court ruled on petitions filed for those six districts.  The government called for by-elections for those seven seats, and the seats were won by ALP candidates after the UNDP boycotted the elections after the government failed to enact electoral reforms.  On May 10, 1990,  Vere Bird, Jr., resigned as Ministers of Public Works and Communications following allegations that he was involved in an Israeli arms transfer (via Antigua and Barbuda) to the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia.  The United Progressive Party (UPP) was established through the merger of the Antiguan Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM), the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM), and the UNDP in March 1992.  Sir James Carlisle was appointed as Governor-General of Trinidad & Barbuda on June 10, 1993.  Parliamentary elections were held on March 8, 1994, and the ALP won eleven out of 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  The UPP won five seats in the House of Representatives.  Lester Bryant Bird, son of Vere C. Bird, Sr., formed a government as prime minister on March 10, 1994.  Vere Bird, Jr. was appointed as Minister of Science, Technology, and Communications on May 15, 1996.  Parliamentary elections were held on March 9, 1999, and the ALP won 12 out of 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  The UPP won four seats in the House of Representatives.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) sent three observers and three staff members led by Muhammad Habibur Rahman of Bangladesh to monitor the parliamentary elections from March 4 to March 10, 1999.  Lester Bryant Bird of the ALP formed a new government as prime minister on March 12, 1999, and Vere Bird, Jr. was appointed as Minister of Trade, Industry, and Business Development.  Former Prime Minister Vere C. Bird, Sr., died on June 28, 1999.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) sent three observers led by Myrtle Palacio of Belize to monitor the voter registration process from July 29 to August 2, 2003.  Parliamentary elections were held on March 23, 2004, and the UPP won 12 out of 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  The ALP won four seats in the House of Representatives.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sent nine observers led by Dennis A. Smith of Barbados to monitor the parliamentary elections from March 15 to March 25, 2004.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) sent three observers and three staff members led by Arthur Donahue of Canada to monitor the parliamentary elections from March 15 to March 28, 2004.  Baldwin Spencer of the UPP was sworn in as prime minister on March 24, 2004.  Dame Louise Lake-Tack was appointed as Governor-General of Trinidad & Tobago on July 17, 2007.  Parliamentary elections were held on March 9, 2009, and the UPP won nine out of 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  The ALP won seven seats in the House of Representatives.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) sent three observers and three staff personnel led by the Honorable Christine Stewart of Canada to monitor the parliamentary elections from March 5 to March 16, 2009.  The Organization of American States (OAS) sent 23 observers from 13 countries to monitor the parliamentary elections.  On March 31, 2010, a judge on the High Court of Antigua & Barbuda nullified the election results of three seats won by the UPP in the 2009 elections.  On October 24, 2010, the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court overturned the court decision to nullify the election results of three seats won by the UPP in the 2009 elections.  Vere Bird, Jr. died of heart failure on March 31, 2013.

[Sources:  Banks and Muller, 1998, 38-41; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), March 23, 2004, March 24, 2004; Caribbean Community (CARICOM) press release, March 17, 2004, April 8, 2004; Caribbean News, March 12, 2004, March 14, 2004, March 17, 2004, March 24, 2004, March 28, 2004, August 14, 2010, October 11, 2010, October 25, 2010, October 28, 2010, January 3, 2011, March 11, 2004, March 12, 2011, January 31, 2012, March 12, 2013, June 20, 2013, June 28, 2013; Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) press release, March 3, 1999, March 9, 1999, July 29, 2003, March 15, 2004, April 15, 2004, March 5, 2009; Degenhardt, 1988, 12-13; Organization of American States (OAS) report, June 23, 2009.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Henry, Paget. 1991. “Political Accumulation and Authoritarianism in the Caribbean: The Case of Antigua,” Social and Economic Studies, vol. 40 (1), pp. 1-38.

Payne, Douglas W. The Failings of Governance in Antigua and Barbuda: The Elections of 1999, Policy Papers on the Americas, CSIS Americas Program, Volume X, Study 4, June 1, 1999.