On September 15, 2013 a young man addressed the Delegates Conference of the Dominica Labour Party in the Southern village of Point Michel.
Late that evening a veteran politician in Dominica called my phone to say “PM, that young man, who spoke today blessed my heart. It would be good if he could join you in Caricom and move the process forward”.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen gathered here at the historic Antigua Recreation Grounds, very late last Thursday evening, I called that long retired former Dominica politician and said – “Comrade, you have gotten your wish! Gaston Browne has been elected Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda!!.”
Indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, I go further this evening to say that no one in Dominica, who met Gaston Browne on that visit or who heard his presentation at that conference, was in doubt, that here was a future Caribbean leader.
So I speak for all Dominica this evening when I extend heartiest congratulations to Gaston Browne and his team of candidates in the last general elections….and, to say how warmly and enthusiastically we welcome you to the mantle of Caribbean leadership at this crucial point in our region’s development.
The challenges besetting these islands are many and varied, and in addition to the experience of several leaders already in office, it is to young, bright, visionary individuals, such as Gaston Browne, that we look for ideas and inspiration to move the region forward.
To many countries in the region, Antigua and Barbuda is a sister Association of Caribbean States Country. Antigua and Barbuda is a sister state in Caricom. Antigua and Barbuda is also, to some, a sister country in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. But for me, as Prime Minister of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda is more-so, a crucial cornerstone of the Dominica Diaspora.
This country has been good to Dominica. It is home to thousands of Dominicans. Their interest is my interest. Their happiness is my happiness…and therefore, their celebration this past weekend, is also a source of great joy to me, as leader of their native land.
So I did not hesitate to accept the invitation to attend this event this evening. Because for me, Antiguans and Barbudans are not just fraternal allies….they are family!
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party is not aligned to my Dominica Labour Party only because of historic roots in the labour movement. We are connected by shared philosophy, mutual respect and personal friendships.
The people of our respective countries prosper when governing parties of our two countries work in concert. Gaston Browne and Roosevelt Skerrit shall work together for the betterment of the people of Antigua and Barbuda and the Commonwealth of Dominica!!!
I salute other ‘Comrades in Labour’ elected in last Thursday’s General elections, and particularly, those appointed earlier this evening to ministerial office.
You have joined the process of national leadership at a crucial point in the development of Antigua and Barbuda, in particular, and the wider Caribbean region in general.
The task ahead is arduous. Our people are looking to us as leaders for inspiration and definitive action. You have, as a newly elected government, to hit the road running. Time waits on no man. Our people are expecting strong, visionary leadership from us as leaders….and we dare not disappoint.
I pledge to you, the full support and cooperation of your colleagues and counterparts in the government of Dominica!!.
Our countries have a deep history of sisterhood in regional and international relations. In contemporary parlance…we have each other’s backs. This, I am persuaded, will be strengthened, as a consequence of your emphatic win at the polls last Thursday evening.
To citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda, I say – embrace your new government! General Elections are over…and the people have spoken!
Give the Prime Minister and his new Cabinet of ministers a chance to settle down, assess their inheritance and effect remedial actions. Rome was not built in a day. Solutions cannot be found and effected in the twinkling of an eye.
But, with an able, visionary captain and crew at the controls, I am confident the social and economic ship of state shall be piloted to safe harbor.
Voters of Antigua and Barbuda, have confidence in your judgement. Do not second guess yourselves. Give the new Government a chance to study the landscape and effect its policies.
June 12th, 2014 could one day be remembered as the birthdate of the New Antigua and Barbuda!
I salute Gaston Browne and his team of ministers! Congratulations on your individual appointments!
Let us all celebrate this evening…for tomorrow starts a new and exciting journey, by the HMS Antigua and Barbuda!
May God Bless and Guide you all.
I thank you.