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Politics

Waite wants unity

Young PNP executive now focuses on own general election campaign

BY GARFIELD MYERS
Editor-at-Large
South Central Bureau
myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The contest over, winner Basil Waite and his vanquished opponent, Everton Fisher, stood together and declared yesterday that the task now was to unify the constituency and ensure St Elizabeth North Eastern remains a bastion of People's National Party (PNP) power.

“I am looking forward to uniting the constituency,” Waite, who is deputy general secretary of the party, told journalists at the entrance to the polling venue, St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), immediately after news that he had won the delegates broke selection exercise by 305 votes.

The victory means that Waite has earned the right to be the party's representative in St Elizabeth North Eastern whenever a parliamentary election is announced.

“My first order of business is to unite the constituency,” Waite emphasied.

He broke off from answering journalists' queries to greet and embrace Fisher who congratulated him on his victory.

Fisher, who is councillor for the Balaclava Division and a former mayor of Black River, also emphasised that the PNP's constituency organisation must now “unite”. He pointed to heated words during the short campaign which must now be pushed to the background.

“After tomorrow we can unite. There were some things said, unfortunately, which should have remained unsaid, but I know in a contest there is always going to be this sort of [cross talk],” said Fisher.

Noting that the people had spoken and that he was “happy for Comrade Waite”, Fisher thanked those who had supported him and pledged to continue his role in active political representation.

“My track record is proud and I stand proud; I have nothing to be ashamed of. I understand the dynamics of an election, and at this time people see Comrade Waite as the best person to go forward and I respect that…” Fisher said.

The priority for the constituency organisation going forward was to ensure the party's strength against the backdrop of divisions which have sapped the party's strength in recent years, Fisher explained.

“At the end of the day the People's National Party must get stronger in North East…” he said.

The figures announced by director of election, PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson at minutes to 5:00 pm showed Waite claiming 576 of 849 votes, compared to Fisher's 271, with two spoiled ballots. There was a delegate turnout of 77 per cent.

The figures appeared to suggest that Fisher got very little support outside of his Balaclava base, with delegates in Siloah, Braes River and Santa Cruz divisions heavily supporting Waite.

The delegates' selection contest took place after sitting Memeber of Parliament Evon Redman decided that he would not be seeking a second term.

After being triumphantly hoisted by jubilant supporters yesterday afternoon, Waite declared that talk of tension in the constituency in the lead-up to yesterday's exercise was hugely exaggerated.

“It's the fog of war, nothing to write home about,” Waite said.

He argued that, in relative terms, the recent internal campaign was clean and he praised the PNP secretariat for moving decisively to keep order.

“This was a well run and, by and large, clean campaign. There was a tendency initially towards a campaign which we would not be proud of, and the secretariat stepped in quickly and hard and brought order to the situation, and I am generally proud of how we went about it. The constituency can be easily united. There is significant work to do and outreach that has to take place, but it is not beyond us to carry out the necessary work,” he said.

Robinson also hailed how the campaign was conducted. “This was a clean campaign,” he said. He urged unity so that the PNP can return to not just winning St Elizabeth North Eastern, but would do so by overwhelming numbers.

“We need to return to the days when we won this constituency by 4,000 votes,” he said.

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