ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Monday appeared to be downplaying media reports that political leader Lester Bird had fallen ill during Sunday’s special retreat aimed at dealing with internal bickering within the grouping.
ALP Public Relations Officer, Dean Jonas, said he was not authoritised to speak on the issue, but senior party member, Lionel Hurst said Bird, who is seeking to hold on to the leadership of the party, had gotten exhausted.
But media reports said that Bird, the former prime minister, who is diabetic and suffers from back problems, reportedly fell ill and as a consequence, had to be rushed to his home.
Last week Bird, said he continue to lead the party despite “anxieties” among supporters regarding his health and age.
“I am still very much able to perform the tasks of the Leader and would step aside the moment my doctors felt that such tasks were likely to exceed my limitations,” said Bird, 74, the island’s second prime minister.
In a statement, Bird said the retreat was aimed at ironing out “many of the difficult issues that have caused some anxiety among supporters.
“We are in the process of preparing the constituencies for a Convention in the latter part of November 2012, and placing the right men and women in the appropriate slots as candidates very shortly afterwards.”
Bird, was last re-elected as leader of the ALP in 2008, and Hurst told the Antigua Observer newspaper “we’ve had disunity and there was talk of a battle for leadership, but after (yesterday) that’s behind us. That’s in the past. We are moving forward with everyone on the same page from (today). No one mentioned anything about challenging the leadership of Lester Bird during the retreat.
We want to win the elections and we know we cannot do so continuing with the way things have been, so we’ve buckled down to work on healing our wounds. We are going to put an end to the issue of leadership and every other issue so that when we speak, we will speak as a party with unity,” he added.