Holness: No 'buy-election'

JLP leader rejects charges that people were paid to vote for Vaz

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has rubbished claims that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which he leads, engaged in vote-buying to secure victory in the Portland Eastern by-election.

“This claim is really an insult to the people of east Portland who are very proud. During my time on the campaign trail the people were not begging anything,” Holness told the Jamaica Observer following a reception for the party's newest Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz at Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew last Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has listed vote-buying on the part of the JLP among the factors which led to the defeat of his People's National Party (PNP) candidate Damion Crawford in the April 4 by-election.

Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment and the police are reportedly investigating these claims, including a media report of a voter who was seen asking for “the thing” after voting and being directed to a parked vehicle to collect from its occupants.

But the JLP has countered that it did not need to resort to vote-buying in a constituency where the residents were underserved and taken for granted by the PNP for more than 30 years.

“What we focused on was the essential things that any citizen wants for their community such as roads and water. As far as we could, we committed to addressing these problems in the communities and I am certain that 'Action Ann' will use her energy to ensure that these commitments are kept,” added Holness.

Action Ann was the moniker used by Vaz during the election campaign.

Earlier Holness used his address to a large group of supporters and financial backers of Vaz, including several major players in the local business community, to declare that she had been placed on probation by the electors with her victory.

According to Holness, Vaz has been given the period leading to the next general election to prove that she could work to meet the needs of the people in Portland Eastern.

Vaz, who was sworn in as a Member of Parliament on Tuesday, polled 9,989 votes while Crawford polled 9,670 to lose by 319 votes. This put Portland Eastern in the JLP column for the first time in more than 30 years.

In victory, Vaz picked up 1,881 votes in the Port Antonio division to Crawford's 2,393. This represented an almost 70 per cent increase in the JLP votes in the traditional PNP division and a 15 per cent increase for Crawford when compared to the 2016 General Election which was won by Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, whose murder in February necessitated the by-election.

In the Prospect division, the PNP increased its votes by approximately one per cent over 2016 while the JLP gained an additional 62 per cent even though Crawford won the division by 492 votes.

The PNP also retained control of the Fellowship division with 1,953 votes, but that was where the JLP made the most inroads as it recorded an 85 per cent increase over the 986 votes it polled in 2016.

Vaz scored a resounding victory the Fairy Hill division where the JLP increased its votes by 37 per cent over 2016, while the PNP's votes increased by four per cent.

In its traditional stronghold of Manchioneal the JLP pulled out 2,107 votes, an increase of 51 per cent over 2016, while the PNP captured 1,540 votes, a 14 per cent jump.


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