Regional

Bunting suggests joint force should select zones of special operations

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 15, 2017

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MOUNT SALEM, St James — In a bid to rule out partisan influence, Opposition spokesperson on national security Peter Bunting is suggesting that, instead of the National Security Council, the joint forces should select areas to be declared zones of special operations (ZOSO).

“One of our concerns that we have learned about is that, apparently, a number of places are being recommended and then the National Security Council, which is primarily a political body, is selecting from amongst [this] group. We don't think this is how it should go,” Bunting argued. “We think it should be driven from the considerations of the security forces — objective considerations — that are not influenced by any partisan thought or advantage.”

Bunting, who, was on Wednesday touring sections of Mount Salem — the first ZOSO — was responding to journalists about his view of Prime Minister Andrew Holness's stance of not being averse to moving the curfews to neighbouring communities.

Bunting said that the conditions to consider an area eligible for declaration as a ZOSO are prescribed in law.

“So our insistence is that the law must be observed. And as long as the law is observed, and a part of that is that it must not be political selection of the zones, it must be based upon the written recommendations of the heads of the security forces,” Bunting continued.

He was accompanied in the Piggot Street, Clarke Street and Crawford Street sections of Mount Salem by three vice -presidents of the People's National Party (PNP), namely: Senator Angela Brown Burke, Member of Parliament Fenton Ferguson and Member of Parliament Wykeham McNeill. PNP councillor for Mount Salem Kerry Thomas, as well as councillors Sylvan Reid and Michael Troupe.

Bunting, who was briefed by members of the joint forces ahead of the tour, said it would have been “very useful if, at the inception, the Government had invited the Opposition to get this sort of briefing”.

“I think it would have helped, I believe, and it would have made it seem less of a partisan initiative and more of a national initiative,” Bunting, a former national security minister, remarked.

The tour was joined by vocal members of the community who argued that their area was selected because of their affiliation to the PNP.

Brown Burke pointed out that the complaints by the residents justify her party's establishment of a hotline.

Since the declaration of the zone, the joint force has seized five illegal firearms, including a high-powered rifle. A wanted man was also apprehended and the joint force says it has also been able to secure information on 'persons of interest' in the area.

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