Registering clear dissatisfaction with the way they are being treated by the central government, the Barbuda Council has given notice that it wants to separate from Antigua and move forward determining its own future alone on behalf of Barbuda and its people.
This bold move is unlikely to gain traction as Cabinet spokesman,, Melford Nicholas, has indicated that the government is not in favour of a separation of the two islands.
In a letter to Cabinet Secretary, Konata Lee dated 31st August, 2020 and copied to international organizations, including the United Nations, Barbuda Council Secretary, Paul Nedd accused the Gaston Browne led administration of neglecting Barbudan’s.
Nedd said the central government’s mistreatment of Barbudans intensified following the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Claiming to have no choice but to expose the mistreatment they have been subjected to, the Secretary Nedd attempted to support the Council’s case by citing, among other things, the Barbuda Land Act 2007, a declaration by Prime Minister Gaston Browne that “Barbudans are squatters” and derogatory name calling of Barbudan’s by the head of government.
Nedd says these incidents have created a strain on the failing relationship between Antigua and Barbuda.
He expressed the opinion that Barbuda is being used as a bread basket for Antigua, which is supported by the abuse of the island’s resources without benefit to their people.
As a result of these and other issues, the Barbuda Council asked that the government take steps that will lead to secession.
In addressing the matter at Thursday’s post-cabinet briefing, Nicholas described the letter as ‘without merit’ and accused the Council of dwelling on matters of the past.
He acknowledged however, that the management of the environment in Barbuda is one area in which differences exist between the Barbuda Council and the central government.
“The Barbuda Council often assumes that it has equal authority and powers as the central government and until it is willing to accept its subordinate role in the governance of Barbuda we are not going to get very far,” he remarked.
Nicholas holds the view, however, that the tone of the dialogue needs to change. He recalled a cordiality between the two entities once existed in the past.
The information minister is recommending that this be revived as part of efforts to improve the relationship between the Council and the central government.