It's Sept 3

It's Sept 3

PM Holness announces general election date in Parliament; Nomination Day is Aug 18

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday listed a raft of policies and projects implemented by his four-year-old Administration as he laid the foundation for a second mandate which the Government will seek when Jamaicans go to the polls on Thursday, September 3.

Wearing his green Desert Clarks — which he had some time ago said would be an indication of when he was ready to call the election — an obviously confident Holness made the election announcement in the House of Representatives minutes after members agreed to end the current states of public emergency (SOE) on August 17.

Holness informed the House that he had already advised the governor general to dissolve Parliament on Thursday, August 13. Next Tuesday, August 18, will be Nomination Day.

“I have decided to announce the elections here in Parliament because it is important that this House, which is the people's House, won't be divided, and is not a house of disunity. In a time of crisis unity must prevail,” he stated.

“So I come to the House asking that we remain united as a country. We go to the elections, but we must always bear in mind right now, to be united to fight the COVID pandemic,” the prime minister said.

“I appeal to the Jamaican people to let us remain united. Let us remain as one people. There are always differences in opinion, and you have in your democracy the right to vote as you choose, but you can do so agreeably, peacefully and responsibly. Let us do it together as one people,” Holness said.

Earlier members united to vote 54 in favour of ending the SOEs, with eight absentees. The two-thirds majority gave Government the constitutional power to go ahead and end the SOEs. This followed the recent agreement between Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips to combine their effort with an oversight body made up primarily of private sector business operators and civil society activists.

The revocation of the SOEs and the zones of special operation will go to the Senate this Friday.

Before announcing the election date Holness reminded the House that his Administration abolished the minimum business tax and asset tax, which were imposed by the Opposition when it was in office. He also pointed to other successes of his Government and highlighted infrastructural development, including major roadways as achievements of his Administration.

Dr Phillips, in response, paid tribute to the Members of Parliament who would not be seeking re-election, including the Speaker Pearnel Charles Sr and several of his own members, including Robert Pickersgill.

He said, however, that it would have been good if, in announcing the successes of the current Administration, the prime minister had given credit to the Opposition for starting the process during its term in office from 2012-2016.

“I believe that the polls will show on the day... and the people of Jamaica will make a determination as to whether this lack of integrity, lack of governance, and failure to deal with the major challenges of Jamaican society deserves another term,” Phillips added.

The prime minister said he had no doubt in his mind that that the country will be built stronger after the poll.

“I have no doubt in my mind that under this Administration, partnership with the people of Jamaica, with unity and continuity, we will achieve the prosperity in the new Jamaica that we all want to see.

“We will be quick, we will be efficient, we will be peaceful, and I raise this issue here in Parliament: This Government, under my leadership, seeks no confrontation with any other political party. This must be the most peaceful election,” he urged the Parliament.

He noted that the election campaign will be conducted during a pandemic, and that he is looking forward to the protocols being developed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and finalised by both major political parties.

He said as soon as that task is completed he will place them in the Disaster Risk Management Act as orders, which means that consequences will follow.

However, he admitted that it will be very difficult, because he has been on the road and he has seen certain behaviour in violation of the protocols.

Holness said he was taking the opportunity to appeal to the leadership of both political parties that it is important that politics does not become a cause for the spread of the virus.

However, he admitted that that the kind of campaign to which both political parties had become accustomed may not be the campaign that will materialise.

He said that this was new challenge for both political parties, but he was certain that, on both sides, the political will exists to ensure that the campaign is carried out according to the agreed measures.

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