BUFF BAY, Portland — While the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Standing Committee was meeting at Belmont Road on Monday night, likely challenger for leadership of the party Audley Shaw was in West Portland shoring up support for his candidacy.
He was supported by the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency, Daryl Vaz, who claimed that Shaw was "the most winnable candidate". However, Vaz said that West Portland delegates would be free to vote for the candidate of their choice in a leadership race .
Speaking at the meeting at Lynch Park, Vaz openly declared his support for Shaw, stating that the media had pushed him to state where his support stood.
"Labourites, I have been pushed by the media to say who I am supporting, and I told them that the media don't dictate my time. I am more than concerned that my name and others are being called on other platforms and not in a complementary manner. My delegates are open to listen to all contenders because, until nomination closes, we don't know if it is one, two or three candidates," Vaz said.
"I have my personal choice, and I will say it openly in the midst of my family that I will support Audley Shaw. You have your own future, your own mind, your own choice and, unlike others who say I have my one hundred or two hundred delegates locked to X or locked to Y, that is old-style politics, and that is what we are running from," he stated.
"I am not doing it because Audley is my friend, because everybody knows that mi an' Audley a friend. I am doing it because, in my mind... we have the best chance with Audley. I have nothing bad to say about my current leader or anybody who is supporting him, because everybody has the right to decide his own destiny. (But), we must continue to conduct ourselves in a way that when this exercise is finished, we can all hold hands and heart to get this Government in the shortest possible time," he declared.
Meanwhile, Shaw told the meeting that he will announce his candidacy Sunday night in a national broadcast, instead of Thursday as was previously announced.
He blasted the Government on the lack of support for the Finsac Enquiry, the proposed Tivoli Enquiry, and plans to rebuild the economy.
"I will be addressing the entire nation on Sunday night... I will also be addressing all of the people of Jamaica," he stated.
Shaw challenged Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips to start an enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens 2010 incursion without completing the report of the enquiry into the 1990s financial sector collapse (Finsac).
"I want to know how barefaced they can be. The collapse of the financial sector cost us $140 billion; broke up people's lives; destroyed businesses; destroyed the productive sector, destroyed agricultural industries, and over 40 financial institutions closed down and many people committed suicide, and you don't want to give us a report on that! You better give us that report, before you go to any new enquiry," he demanded.
He said that the prime minister's visit to China brought no new deals, only the finalisation of deals the JLP had already made with the Chinese. He said his Government will grow and build the economy, including small businesses, and will call for continuity in governance for more than one term.
"Our mission and my mission and the mission of a government, if God should grant me the opportunity to lead, is to create a society in which our people are well trained to world-class levels of productivity; that they are gainfully employed; that they enjoy a decent standard of living; and importantly, they must enjoy peace and prosperity in a clean, safe, and healthy environment," he said.