Residents accuse Gaston Browne of breaching campaign rules

Antigua Observer:  

The Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) has been accused of breaching the electoral law which requires parties to cease campaigning at midnight March 20, before polling day March 21.

Residents reported to OBSERVER media yesterday that they received text and other messages on behalf of the party and robocalls asking them to choose the party to rule the country again.

In some instances, these electors who complained said they got the calls prior to voting. The calls came from a toll-free number with the voice of ABLP leader Gaston Browne, asking them to vote for his party.

One woman said her privacy was violated.

“We just got a call from 111 telling us to support Gaston and his party because we know, we the people of Antigua know, what he says he means, what he has done and what he is going to do for the country,” she recounted.

The woman said she was “annoyed because campaign finished [Tuesday] night. Let everybody have a fair chance…if me nuh mek up me mind before, you phonecall go mek up fuh me mind now? No! Allow everybody to make their own choices.”

When contacted, Browne told OBSERVER media the robocalls were made using the party’s online app.

He said only supporters of the ABLP were to receive these messages but he did not state how the party would have actually known with certainty who is a supporter. Additionally, another annoyed person who received the call, subsequently posited why, if Browne was confident that the recipients were in fact already supporters, would he have to send such a message.

The ABLP app is also available for all and sundry to download, whether one is a supporter or simply interested in finding out more about the party and its candidates among other things which the app offers.

According to law, all election campaigning ended at midnight on Tuesday.

Despite admitting that the messages were sent on his behalf, Browne said he did not violate any law, by using these robocalls to ask voters to cast their ballots in his party’s favour.

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