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Barbuda Council member Devon Warner recently spoke out against the government’s plans to sell lands in Barbuda, warning that any attempts to disrupt the practice of communal land ownership on the island would be met with civil unrest.
In response, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has warned the Barbuda Council sternly that such threats will not be tolerated.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the government’s proposal to sell lands in Barbuda is a necessary step to attract foreign investment and stimulate economic growth on the island.
However, the Barbuda Council believes that communal land ownership is a vital component of their culture and way of life, and they fear that the government’s proposal will result in the loss of their ancestral lands.
This disagreement has led to tensions between the government and the council, and it remains to be seen how the situation will be resolved.
“I want to put this to the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda that the Barbuda Council will be prepared whenever he tries to implement the sale of lands in Barbuda, and the Barbuda people are waiting”, Warner said
Adding, “I however, want to warn the prime minister; I want to put him on call (notice) today, for he seems to want to agitate things that might not be in the best interest of Antigua and Barbuda. I want to ask this question as I know he probably has some high-paid adviser on his team, is there anyone willing to tell the prime minister that this could be rather dangerous,” Warner
Warner also expressed concern about the approach the prime minister intends to take regarding this issue.
According to Warner, the prime minister’s proposed plan is fraught with danger and could potentially lead to negative consequences.
“This could cause civil unrest within the state of Antigua and Barbuda. He needs to rethink what he is doing and to rethink it seriously,” Warner warned.
In response, the prime minister reiterated that the matter has already been settled and that the lands are vested in the crown, which is represented by the Cabinet.
He said the Cabinet has the ultimate authority to determine how lands on the island are to be handled.
“Let me speak on the issue of the law and lawlessness; one thing I can assure Devon Warner et al, there shall be no lawlessness in Barbuda under the leadership of Gaston Browne and the Labour Party. So those of you who want to incite violence and anarchy within Barbuda, be careful what you wish for because there shall be no lawlessness in Barbuda; that much I can assure you. And that’s a promise,” Browne added
The topic of lands in Barbuda has been a long-standing political issue, with the government contending that it has the legal right to sell lands in Barbuda.
However, the 2015 Paradise Found Act, which invalidated certain sections of the 2007 Barbuda Land Act, has reignited the debate, and both parties appear to be unable to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
While some members of the Barbuda Council continue to hold the view that land in Barbuda is collectively owned and not for sale, they have expressed willingness to consider leasing options.