Antigua and Barbuda’s Gaston Browne took the oath of office on Thursday as Prime Minister after leading his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) to a slim election victory.
Browne’s party won nine of the 17 seats for a third consecutive term in office.
The ABLP had 15 of the 17 seats after the 2018 general election.
Browne thanked the electorate, saying he was honoured and humbled that the voters had entrusted him with a third term as Prime Minister.
He acknowledged that a third term would have been difficult in the face of the residual challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the escalation in food prices, and other matters over which his administration had no control.
And Browne explained that climate change, which caused water sources to dry up, compounded the challenges.
“We also had to deal with unrelenting opposition propaganda,” he declared.
“We were not unduly worried about that because we felt that the truth would ultimately rise to the top,” Browne told local media.
Nevertheless, he observed that his party now has a fresh term and five years to resolve the issues, including a COVID-19-linked unemployment spike among the population.
“We understand they had concerns and they had to really, let’s say, place their anger somewhere. It came to us and we accept. We understand. But the good thing is they did not vote us out of government,” the ABLP leader declared.
In this regard, Browned thanked the electorate for their mercy.
He also thanked God for his guidance and protection.
“I believe God is with us and we are so grateful to be able to continue to preside over the governance of the country, especially from the standpoint that I think at this time we are literally poised to take the country to the next level,” the PM asserted.
The main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), won five additional seats compared to the solitary seat it gained in the 2018 general election.
However, UPP leader Harold Lovell failed to win the City East seat for a third consecutive time.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) failed to impact the election.
But independent candidate, Asot Michael won his seat as did the incumbent, Trevor Walker of the Barbuda People’s Movement on the sister isle of Barbuda.