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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 14:13 GMT
Elections may end Antigua dynasty
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Lester Bird
Lester Bird says the polls are wrong to predict his defeat
Voters in Antigua and Barbuda are taking part in elections that could bring an end to the Caribbean country's long-running political dynasty.

Politics in the twin-island nation are dominated by the Bird family, which has held the post of prime minister since independence from Britain in 1981.

The governing Antigua Labour Party is seeking a seventh term in office.

But opinion polls are predicting a close contest, with the opposition United Progressive Party in the lead.

Opposition leader Baldwin Spencer is confidently predicting that his party will win a majority of the 17 seats in the lower house of parliament, known as the House of Representatives.

He told the BBC's Caribbean Service that despite a series of scandals, successive ALP governments had done nothing to prevent corruption.

But Prime Minister Lester Bird says the predictions of his impending defeat are "not a realistic prognostication of what's going to happen".

He said in a Caribbean Service interview that his party had laid down strict anti-corruption guidelines, following a 2002 inquiry into the national medical insurance scheme that led to fraud charges against seven officials.

Mr Bird has been prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda since 1994, when he took over from his father Vere.

He says that this is the last general election he will be contesting, whether he wins or not.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Antigua and Barbuda
02 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Antigua and Barbuda
31 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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