PNP factions clash, as party drops Hill in Hanover

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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SANDY BAY, Hanover — A woman sustained head injuries yesterday afternoon during a bloody clash between two demonstrating People's National Party (PNP) groups close to the Sandy Bay Police Station.

The skirmish evolved after disenchanted supporters of PNP councillor for the Sandy Bay Division and Mayor of Lucea, Lloyd Hill, protested over the failure of the PNP hierarchy in Eastern Hanover to automatically ratify his candidacy for the upcoming local government election.

Member of Parliament for Hanover East, DK Duncan, has since confirmed to the Observer that the party had decided to drop Hill from its slate of candidates for the upcoming polls.

All hell broke loose after a handful of men, who are opposed to Hill's candidacy, invaded the demonstration and strongly expressed their views. They, however, failed to disclose the candidate of their choice, but stated that Hill was a non-performer.

An exchange of invectives between one of Hill's detractors and a female supporter of Hill, escalated into a bottle-throwing match during which the woman was hit in the head.

Before that, a videographer had to pull his licensed firearm to defend himself when the same outspoken man — who was involved in the skirmish with the woman — aborted an interview when he pushed away the camera resulting in a confrontation.

In the meantime, Hill's supporters threatened to withhold their support for the party if Hill, who served as councillor for three consecutive terms and who is the chairman of the Hanover Parish Council, is not the candidate in the upcoming polls, constitutionally due by the end on March.

"No Hill, no vote! Is Hill we want!" chanted the incumbent mayor's irate supporters.

Hill also expressed dismay that his selection was not ratified by the party, while the candidacy of the other two PNP councillors in the constituency, in the Chester Castle and Hopewell divisions had been approved.

He is even more incensed by the fact that during the recent general election, in which Duncan defeated Paula Kerr-Jarrett of the Jamaica Labour Party by over 300 votes, the PNP lost in the Chester Castle and Hopewell divisions, while they won by over 1,000 votes in the Sandy Bay Division.

On two occasions last year PNP councillors moved a no-confidence motion against Hill, citing his alleged autocratic leadership style. But the mayor took to the Supreme Court to bar the motion.

Yesterday, Duncan disclosed that after the recommendation of the constituency and regional leadership, the party decided to drop Hill from its slate of candidates going into the local government elections.

"It's an open secret that he (Hill) has been controversial with his colleagues. The people in the constituency have been disappointed in both his conduct and his level of representation in the Sandy Bay Division," Duncan told the Observer during a telephone interview late yesterday.

"Consequently, an internal review has been done across the divisions in the island, including the Sandy Bay Division for which Lloyd (Hill) is the sitting councillor, and the constituency leadership has recommended that he no longer be the candidate for the division. The regional leadership has agreed with the constituency leadership and so that is why a small group of Comrades who feel loyalty to Lloyd are aggrieved," he added.

Duncan revealed that "the internal process of the party continues and a new candidate will be selected prior to Nomination Day, whenever that is, for the local government elections".

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