THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) yesterday signed off on its 2013 delegates' list, paving the way for this weekend's leadership election, scheduled for the National Arena in Kingston on Sunday.
Both JLP Chairman Robert Montague and General Secretary Dr Horace Chang confirmed last night that the delegates' list, with just over 5,100 names, has now been verified by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) and signed off on by representatives of both Andrew Holness's Team JLP and the contending Team Audley Shaw.
The delegates' list includes approximately 4,850 persons representing the party's four area councils, as well as at least 250 persons representing the affiliates and members of the central executive. The four affiliates are the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, which has 100 delegates; and three others with 40 delegates each — Generation 2000, the Women's Freedom Movement and Young Jamaica -- as well as 30 members of the central executive.
Last night, Montague warned Labourites that they should not expect the usual partying atmosphere which characterises the annual conferences of both political parties, but a formal election based on the rules of the EOJ.
Montague also told members and supporters of the 70-year-old political party that the wearing of party T-shirts bearing the pictures of candidates will not be allowed.
"There will be nothing but voting. No buses in the parking lots. Delegates will be searched and checked and given their IDs. They will vote in the arena, alphabetically, and leave the Arena. At about 4:00 pm the results will be ready and will be announced from a platform in the parking lot," Montague told the Jamaica Observer.
He said that MPs and caretakers have been advised that only delegates should be allowed on vehicles transporting them to the Arena.
"We are appealing to all our people to co-operate, so there can be no bad images of anyone associated with the process," said Montague.
He said that there will be strong police security, and the voting process will follow the same features as in polling stations during national elections. No reporters or photographers will be allowed inside the Arena during the process.
Montague also explained that voting will take place between 8:00 am and 1:00 pm, based on the list, which is now in the hands of the EOJ. Delegates will be provided with photographic identification and other valid identification requirements of the EOJ election process.
Montague said that reports that the issue of Team Audley Shaw supporter Daryl Vaz being left off the list has been resolved. He explained that Vaz, Ruddy Spencer and a number of other persons were affected by the fact that a digit was left off the access number made available by the electoral office.
Last night, Dr Chang said that both sides had signed off on the list and given their approval.
"It was a very involved process but, at the end of the day, we have been able to settle all the issues brought by both sides. We expect a free and fair exercise this Sunday," Chang said.
Chairman of the JLP Election Commission George Soutar yesterday morning convened a meeting with both Holness and Shaw, as well as Montague.
"The meeting was a cordial one and both gentlemen reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the unity, and indicated that they will do everything in their power to ensure that the remaining portion of the campaign is conducted in a positive manner," Soutar said.