Government and opposition parties in Antigua and Barbuda continued to trade accusations over the delay in setting a date for elections expected to be held this month.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, whose ruling United Progressive Party is seeking a third consecutive term in office, called on Antigua Labor Party leader Gaston Browne to withdraw two pending legal challenges to district boundaries so as to facilitate the setting of the election date.
"I want to challenge Gaston Browne tonight. If you're so interested in having an election, I call on you tonight to withdraw those cases from the court," Spencer told supporters at a rally here Sunday night.
But Browne, speaking on radio Monday, said the government was deliberately delaying scheduling the ballot.
"It is he (Spencer) who promised a month ago that he would make a monumental announcement, which everyone interpreted to mean that he would have called the election," Browne said.
Last month, Spencer told voters that they should regard March 15 as an important date, though he stopped short of indicating whether or not it would be the date for the poll.
"The 15th of March is the date something will certainly happen in Antigua and Barbuda," the prime minister said in February, adding that the announcement of the actual election day "is still in my back pocket".
Browne told radio listeners he has offered talks over the dispute at the heart of the court cases.
"I had offered Prime Minister Spencer the opportunity to negotiate a settlement to ensure that the elections will be held on a timely basis, while ensuring that there is no voter disenfranchisement, and he flatly refused," the opposition leader said.
In the 2009 general election, the UPP won nine of the 17 seats in parliament, with the remainder going to the ALP.
Both Spencer and Browne have expressed confidence about the outcome of the looming election. EFE