Election uncertainty looms

PNP sticks by decision to switch Kingston Central selection to its HQ despite protest by one candidate

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Almost 600 delegates have been certified to vote when the People's National Party (PNP) selects its next representative for the Kingston Central constituency on Saturday.

The poll is slated to open at 10:00 am and close at 4:00 pm, with the results expected to be announced about 6:00 pm.

Five people are on the ballot, but the status of businesswoman and minister of religion Joan Porteous is unclear as she has objected to the party's decision to stage the election at its Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters.

Porteous has argued that by moving the poll outside of the constituency the leadership of the party is placing undue hardship on the delegates, as this will exclude individuals who are unable to make arrangements for travel.

But this has been rejected by the leadership of the party and there has been no indication that any of the other candidates, Raymond Pryce, Paul Buchanan, Imani Duncan-Price, or Donald Jackson are opposed to the move.

PNP insiders yesterday indicated that the selection was initially scheduled for the compound of the Holy Trinity High School, but the decision was made to change the venue because of the school's proximity to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where the funeral of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga will be held the next day.

“It was discussed and it was agreed that having the selection in the vicinity of where the former prime minister's funeral is to be held the following day was inappropriate,” a senior PNP insider told the Jamaica Observer.

“The options were to delay the selection by one week or move it, and we decided, particularly at this time with everything else happening in the party, that it was better to stick to the original timeline and get this out of the way.

“I really don't know where is the hardship for persons to move from central Kingston to vote at the headquarters which is in the neighbouring constituency. It is not like we are moving it to Westmoreland,” added the PNP insider as he noted that a number of selection contests have been hosted at the party's headquarters in the past.

Among the latest selections to be held at the PNP headquarters was the October 3, 2015 contest between Damion Crawford and Peter Blake for the right to represent the PNP in St Andrew East Rural.

What is expected to be a close race to replace Ronald Thwaites in Kingston Central had captured the attention of Comrades across the island until it became lost in the shadows of a looming contest between sitting President Dr Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting for the leadership of the party.

The PNP's executive was expected to make a decision on Monday if the two will face-off in a special delegates' conference next month, or at the party's annual conference in September. But what is being reported as an explosive meeting ended without consensus.

Some Comrades have argued that an early special delegates' conference is needed to end the uncertainty, while Bunting has made it clear that he is not prepared to challenge until September.


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