Sir Lester Bryant Bird, who served as the second prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, has announced his retirement from active politics.
Age has taken its toll
Sir Lester, who was born on February 21, 1938 served as prime minister from 1994-2004, replaced his father, Sir Vere Bird.
“I know that, in as much as my brain has much to contribute, age has taken its toll on my physical capacity. It would be unfair to impose upon the readiness of the people of Rural East to maintain me as their representative,” Sir Lester told Parliament on Tuesday.
“The time has come for younger legs and more agile hands. That is why, I announce today in this honorable House that I will not seek re-election, and at the end of this term, I will leave representative politics,” said Sir Lester, who was first elected to Parliament in 1976.
“I believe our partnership of more than 40 years has been a story of transformation, of accomplishment and of progress. The people of Rural East gave me the opportunity to serve our nation in many important ministerial positions – tourism, energy, economic development, foreign affairs – and as prime minister.”
Advisor to the government
Sir Lester said that he intends to remain available as an adviser to the government should the need arise and used the occasion to endorse his niece, Maria Bird-Browne, the wife of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, as his successor in his constituency.
“I do not intend to end my representation of the people of Rural East without ensuring that my successor is someone who I personally believe will be good for each of its residents, good for the constituency, and good for the country. That is why I commend to the people of St John’s Rural East, Maria Bird-Browne.
“I do so not only because she is my niece. I do so because she has shown the humility and the compassion to be a people’s representative,” Sir Lester said, telling legislators he is confident that his successor will stand up for, and with, the people of the constituency and be a credit to the Antigua Labor Party (ALP) government.
In 2014, the British-educated lawyer, was one of four persons to be conferred with a knighthood during the Ceremonial Parade to mark the 33rd anniversary of the island’s political independence from Britain.
Sir Lester was named Knight of the Most Exalted Order of National Hero (KNH) for his contribution to national development as an outstanding sportsman, lawyer and parliamentarian and joined the ranks of his father and cricket legend, Sir Vivian Richards, as the only other living national hero.