Bunting wants term limits for PNP leadership

MP suggests systematic renewal of PNP leadership

BY KIMONE FRANCIS Observer staff reporter francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016

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Peter Bunting last night called for a "systematic renewal of leadership" of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) and put forward two possible systems of term limits that would require constitutional change in the 77-year-old political movement.


Speaking at a town hall meeting put on by the Jamaica Theological Seminary under the theme ‘The PNP then and now — Matters’, Bunting, the Manchester Central Member of Parliament and former PNP general secretary, suggested that all office holders of the party should have circumscribed tenure.


His comment comes mere weeks after he signalled his intention to lead the party, which is still embroiled in turmoil after losing the February 25, 2016 General Election by one seat to the Jamaica Labour Party.


"The Constitution of the PNP provides annual opportunities for reaffirming or replacing officers through re-election. In practice, however, any attempt to exercise this democracy is unwelcome. There has not been a single national officer position contested in the last eight years. This cannot be healthy for a democratic party," Bunting said.


The former minister of national security urged Comrades to consider amending the party’s Constitution to accomplish this.


"Tenure could be limited by having either a mandatory retirement age, or a limit of how long one can hold a post, or some combination of the two," said Bunting.


"...China has a mandatory retirement age of 68 and all top party officials are limited to two five-year terms in the same post. In Brazil, the mandatory retirement age is 70. In many other countries such as the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Haiti there are limits of one or two terms as president. Locally, the JLP has proposed term limits for a prime minister. The thinking behind these mechanisms to circumscribe tenure is that leaders as a class should never be trusted uncritically," he argued.


Added to that, he pointed out that cliques exist in all parties and lead to favouritism, nepotism and other unwholesome practices. Therefore, reasonable limits must be imposed on the duration of individual leadership.


At the same time, Bunting called for the renewal of the party’s groups, insisting that it is critical to the maintenance of the PNP’s core values. He also called for communication and citizen engagement, citing that it was the absence of these that contributed to the party’s defeat at the polls.


"In the face of political events such as the election loss of February 25th, a political party can either continue to embrace the status quo, or it can feel compelled to renew," he said.

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