The battle for representation in the St Mary’s South Constituency got even more interesting on Sunday when the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s Samantha Marshall issued a public invitation to the United Progressive Party’s Kelvin “Shugy” Simon to a public debate.
Simon and Marshall are expected to face each other once again in a pending by-election following his resignation as MP for St Mary’s South.
In a release on Sunday Marshall said the debate aims to provide an opportunity for both herself and her opponent, to share and outline their plans and programs for the constituents, fostering transparency and enabling voters to make an informed decision.
“Recent developments in the political landscape of Antigua and Barbuda have highlighted the importance of open discussions and the role of the people as trustees of the Constitution,” the release said.
“The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Gerald Watt KC, who previously led a public debate regarding Mr. Simon’s inability to resign, has now changed his position, which may trigger the possibility of a by-election. This realization serves as a valuable lesson for all, especially the Speaker, emphasizing the need for thorough consideration of the law and matters at hand before leading public debates,” it added.
Marshall said that given the potential by-election, albeit subject to the outcome of the petition before the High Court, it is crucial that both she and Simon allow the people to hear, examine, and question their records and plans for the constituency of St Mary’s South.
“This public debate will provide a platform for constituents to engage directly with us, understand our visions, and assess our capabilities,”
She proposed that the event could be organized by the National Youth Parliament Association of Antigua and Barbuda which she said is a representative body comprising youth across the political divide.
Marshall said “The involvement of our young citizens is vital as they represent the future and need to understand the issues affecting our constituency and nation. Moreover, we believe that conducting the debate in St Mary’s South will facilitate maximum participation from a cross-section of the constituency. By bringing the discussion directly to the constituents, we demonstrate our commitment to serving their interests and fostering a sense of inclusivity”.
Simon defeated Marshall by almost 200 votes in the January 19 polls.