JLP dumps Wint

Holness praised for 'swift' action after damaging allegations against candidate emerge

BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor -- publications davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 13, 2015

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THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has dropped Devon Wint as its candidate for St Catherine West Central in the next general election, the Jamaica Observer was informed last night.

"Andrew Holness instructed that he be removed," a reliable party source confirmed and commended the JLP leader for acting "swiftly" and "decisively" after damaging allegations against Wint "came to light in the last 48 hours".

The development, the JLP source said, will result in the Opposition party offering the candidacy to Dr Christopher Tufton, who lost his bid to represent the constituency in a delegates' selection race against Wint on September 26 this year.

Tufton had lost by a mere 15 votes, polling 196 to Wint's 211.

The selection was held after sitting member of parliament Dr Ken Baugh signalled that he had no intention of contesting another general election.

"Having Tufton back as a candidate will enhance our appeal to funders and will help lift the image of the party. This is a big bounce for us," the source said.

"It also comes at a good time for the party as Daryl [Vaz], who everyone knows is excellent at fundraising, has made it known that he intends to campaign hard for the party," the source said.

Vaz, the MP for Portland Western, was on radio Wednesday telling veteran journalist Cliff Hughes that his only objective now was to get rid of the People's National Party Government, which he described as "uncaring" because of its initial handling of the deaths of 19 premature babies at two of the island's major hospitals.

The babies were among 42 infected by the klebsiella and serratia bacteria between June and September this year at the neonatal intensive Care units of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston and Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.

The tragedy, dubbed the 'dead babies scandal', resulted in Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller reassigning Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and moving Horace Dalley to the health ministry from the Ministry of Finance and Planning where he served as minister without portfolio with responsibility for the public service. Both appointments took effect on Monday.

But Simpson Miller's action was criticised by Holness who said that all that the prime minister has done is merely shield her minister by shifting accountability and responsibility away from him.

Simpson Miller's action, he said, shows "a very high tolerance and patience with failure and underperformance, which places the health and security of the people of Jamaica at risk".

"The minister should have been removed a long time ago. The fact is that Minister Ferguson's performance and execution of his duties as the minister of health do not recommend him to continue to hold any ministerial office in any Cabinet," Holness said.

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