The leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell, citing the need to prevent “another brutal leadership battle” defended his decision to submit his resignation to the party on Sunday that was subsequently rejected by its membership.
“I have made it very clear that I have no desire stay on any longer, one minute longer, than my presence as leader is either required or desired,’ Lovell said, adding that he had indicated he had been given a mandate to lead the party into government in the last general election and failed.
“When a party wins all are responsible everybody shares in the glory, everybody shares in the victory. When a party loses the buck stops with the party leader. I accept that as a principle and I therefore said that I was offering my resignation to this party because I did not want to be in apposition where people are saying why doesn’t he go,” Lovell said in an interview broadcast on Observer Radio.
Lovell, who replaced former prime minister Baldwin Spencer as leader of the UPP after Spencer lost the 2014 general election, feared even worse in the general election this year, when the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) of Prime Minister Gaston Browne won 15 of the 17 seats.
Lovell resigned from his post on Sunday night, but the majority of the delegates attending the party’s annual General Council meeting rejected his decision.
Lovell told radio listeners that he was ‘surprised” at the reports which have made its way into the public domain regarding the conduct of the meeting and his decision to step down.
Media reports here claimed that Lovell had “slapped” his hands on the table and announced his resignation at the meeting and once he had done so, former party chairman, Leon Chaku Symister moved a motion for a vote to be taken to decide if the resignation would be accepted.
The media reports said that Lovell remained in the room during the vote where “more than 90 percent of the members voted for him to remain by a show of hands,” quoting an insider.
“I was surprised because we had a process yesterday. There was nothing unusual about the process. Everything went smoothly, we had over 140 persons present.
“I want this to be clear, I am not going to allow the party to go through another brutal leadership battle. When it comes to that I can move ahead and let the party deal with that. I think it is very very unfortunate that what happened yesterday that persons are now trying to cast aspersions ….
“If they felt that way at the time they could have stood up on a point of order,” Lovell added.
The media reports said that the party did not ratify November 17 and 18 as the dates for its convention.