Jump high, jump low, Asot Michael has been told by the hierarchy of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party that no court decision will cause a change of heart where his membership in the party is concerned
The High Court of Antigua and Barbuda has set aside attempts by the Executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party to take disciplinary action against Asot Michael engineered to bar him from being an ABLP candidate for the St Peter constituency in the upcoming general election.
But Lionel Max Hurst told reporters on Tuesday that Michael, the MP for St Peter has been banned from the party and has already been replaced.
“There is no changing of mind. He has been expelled from the party. His expulsion was automatic since he already announced his intention to run on an independent candidate”, Hurst said.
Hurst says the ABLP will embrace opponents from any other political party but will never accept any member who is fighting against one of its own.
“If you are on the inside and you want to say bad things about the ABLP then you are not our friend and will do what we have to do to get you out,” Hurst said.
In a ruling delivered on December 12th, 2022, Justice Jan Drysdale declared that two “purported” disciplinary tribunals engaged to deal with the complaints were illegally appointed and their decisions were therefore null and void.
The court ruled that the ABLP disciplinary tribunal was unlawfully constituted in breach of the provisions of the ABLP Constitution.
The legal battle to stop the disciplinary proceedings has been in progress for over two years and the Court granted injunctive relief to Michael on separate occasions restraining the ABLP effort to prevent him from functioning as the duly elected parliamentary representative of the St. Peter Constituency.
“In recent years, my harmonious relationship with the ABLP has been undermined by the Political Leader Prime Minister and I have had to take several actions in Court to protect my rights as a member of the ABLP. This includes my right to contest the upcoming election as a candidate of the ABLP and in particular the right to not have another person unlawfully run in my place. Despite several Court Orders, the Prime Minister continues to be a law onto himself and seeks to use his Executive Office to achieve his personal political goals,” Hurst
Hurst maintains that the prime minister and his colleagues in the ABLP Executive believe that this matter is a political fight involving members and organs of the party and should therefore not be determined in court.
“Whilst the parties are all within the political arena, the matter which concerns the court is an allegation of the constitution of the ABLP which in effect is a contract binding on the members of the ABLP, not being properly utilized to discipline and or effect his removal. There is a clear and legitimate cause of action which the Applicant regardless of his political status is entitled to pursue”, he added.
The entire debacle started back in 2017 when Michael was arrested in London for alleged bribery and corruption.
Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, then advised the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams to revoke immediately the appointment from the Cabinet, of Tourism and Investment Minister, Asot Michael pending the outcome of his arrest Monday morning by the Metropolitan Police in London.