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Gov't, Opposition agree to further talks on national security

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) led administration and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) are to hold further discussions on national security and crime management following an initial meeting last night to discuss the issues.

According to a joint statement from the two parties, the meeting enabled Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and their respective teams to engage in a “full, frank and wide-ranging” discussion although each side had “differing views” on the constitutionality of extending the states of public emergency across some sections of the island.

Both sides have agreed that their respective legal teams would meet to discuss and agree, where possible, on the crime control powers to be utilised in the existing legislative framework or new legislation.

It was also agreed that there will be further discussions beginning with a meeting on January 26 with other stakeholders, including the private sector, the churches, human rights and civil society groups, to advance national consensus.

Last night's meeting came after the Government and Opposition spent last week jousting over an appropriate date for the talks, with both sides trying to gain political advantage as controversy continued to grow over the Opposition's vote against a further extension of the SOEs, which had been declared in three separate areas of the country starting last January in St James.

The other areas where the security measure was also in place were St Catherine North, as well as Kingston Western and St Andrew South.

However, the Opposition's vote in Parliament last month resulted in the measure coming to an end in St Catherine North last Wednesday, while it expired last night in Kingston Western and St Andrew South.

The SOE will cease to exist in St James on January 31.

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