THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) yesterday reactivated its election commission to conduct all elections likely to take place at its 70th annual conference in November.
But party spokesmen quickly pointed out that the reactivation was not a result of the developing leadership campaign between JLP leader Andrew Holness and one of his four deputies, Audley Shaw, which could lead to a showdown in November.
"It is in the normal course of things that the party sets up this commission at this time of the year to conduct any elections associated with the annual conference," JLP electoral spokesman and Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) member, Senator Tom Tavares Finson, told the Jamaica Observer.
General Secretary Dr Horace Chang said, however, that while the commission is not a response to the current leadership campaign, its mandate is to maintain the quality and direction of all campaigns for elected positions, including a possible leadership race.
"It will definitely try and prevent any deterioration into any kind of confrontation," Chang said.
The commission comprises Queens Counsel George Soutar, as chairman; Senator Tavares Finson, who is also an attorney; and member of parliament for North West St Andrew, Derrick Smith, who replaces Senator Kamina Johnson Smith.
Tavares Finson said that Johnson Smith pulled out to focus on constitutional issues within the party that have been assigned to her.
The commission has been charged with the task of conducting any elections that may arise leading up to the conference, including possible challenges for the positions of leader and deputy leaders, as well as subsequent elections to the Central Executive and other senior posts.
Meantime, Chang refused to comment on yesterday's release from member of parliament for West Portland, Daryl Vaz, suggesting that his colleagues "set aside their personal preference" and facilitate
Vaz, who appears to be the main spokesman for the Shaw camp, suggested that the party's four area councils offer and host the candidates for leader, allowing them full access to address special area council meetings.
He argued that area council endorsements of a particular candidate only create divisiveness, as area councils are made up of delegates who will always support both candidates.
Dr Chang said that Vaz's suggestion sounded reasonable, but refused to go any further.