DEPUTY General Secretary of the ruling People's National Party Raymond Pryce yesterday chided the party's youth arm for airing internal issues in public.
The apparent rift amongst members of the People's National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) stems from the stance taken by its president, Alric Campbell, over the call for a commission of enquiry into the operation of the security forces and the treatment of residents in Tivoli Gardens in 2010, which was not in keeping with the position of the party.
Campbell, in a statement Tuesday, said while the PNPYO was cognisant of reports of killings and abuse of the residents at the time of the "incursion" and the state of emergency that followed, "the PNPYO at this time does not support a commission of enquiry into the operations". Among the stated reasons for its position, he said, was that the country did not budget for such an enquiry in the tight fiscal space within which it now operates as well as the fact that the events leading up to the "incursion" was on the basis of a declaration of war by criminals who barricaded the community and used sand bags and other 'military-type preparation' for serious defence.
Efforts yesterday to contact Campbell were unsuccessful.
Following the president's statement, Kingston Parish Chairman Keron Woods said the chapter was "appalled at the statement released by the PNPYO regarding the Government's decision to hold a commission of Enquiry into the May 2010 police-military operation in West Kingston".
"The parish of Kingston wishes to disassociate itself from the utterances of the PNPYO president for it represents his personal take on the matter and not the parish of Kingston; we are saddened that due process was not adhered to in canvassing the views of the National Council members. We urge the leadership of the PNPYO to be inclusive; this high-handed approach is not participatory democracy," Woods said.
"The parish of Kingston is of the firm view that a commission of enquiry will bring closure, among other things, to happenings leading up to and during the operation; there is no evidence to state whether or not the operation was justified and only a proper investigative arm can draw such conclusion based on evidence put before it," he added.
"As chairman I apologise to the members of the parish of Kingston for this outburst," Woods said.
Further fuelling the issue, PNP supporters, in their View Points forum — a Facebook chatroom — chastised Campbell for his stance and criticised him for not accepting their invitation to join its membership in a live chat on the issue, noting that representatives of the Jamaica Labour Party's arm, G2K, had complied when asked.
"We the members of View Points predominantly support the People's National Party; we are therefore joining Comrade Keron Woods, Kingston parish chairman, in his bid for the PNPYO to become more of a participatory democratic organisation," the group said.
"View Points also takes issue with the posture of the PNPYO president because we feel that he has not articulated properly his rationale for not wanting to have an enquiry into the police-military operation in Tivoli Gardens. The people of Tivoli Gardens are human beings, too, and if the PNPYO president has any evidence to support his claim that the operation was justified, then he must furnish the commission whenever it meets with the information he has to suggest same," they said.
Yesterday, Pryce attempting to quash the situation, reminded members that there are well established internal channels and processes to review and resolve disputes.
"The public discussions regarding comments and decisions taken is unnecessary and unhelpful. Furthermore, it comes at a time when the public would benefit from discussions arising from the budget and sectoral presentations," said Pryce. He told the PNPYO to desist from public releases and related posts on social media, and instead convene meetings to discuss their issues.