PEACEMAKERS

Natalie, Dayton to lead teams to mend fences after PNP's bitter presidential race

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

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They were among the more outspoken members of the OnePNP and Rise United teams in the lead-up to last Saturday's presidential election in the People's National Party (PNP), but neither Natalie Neita nor Dr Dayton Campbell was as caustic or belligerent as some other supporters of the contestants Dr Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting.

Now they have been given the task of smoothing ruffled feathers, settling bruised egos and getting former friends, turned enemies, back together.

Neita, the campaign manager for the Phillips-led OnePNP team, and Campbell, the campaign manager for Bunting's Rise United, are considered two key members of the PNP's young brigade and are expected to play leadership roles in the future of the party.

Yesterday Phillips, who survived a strong challenge from Bunting by a mere 76 votes, told a media briefing at PNP headquarters in St Andrew that in their first face-to-face talks following the election, the two decided on the Neita and Campbell-led meetings as one of the first steps to ensure that the unity is restored in the PNP.

“The PNP remains a party with vibrant internal democratic traditions. This allows each member to offer themselves for any office in the party and to campaign hard. At the end of the day it is the preferred choice of the majority of the delegates that we all accept. Even as we cherish our democracy, whether we win, lose or draw, whatever the outcome of a contest, we always put the party before self,” said Phillips.

“It was a gruelling campaign lasting 90 days. It was not perfect, and many utterances may come back to haunt us. There were also reported serious breaches of the party's Code of Conduct. According to our rules, these will be dealt with. However, I want to pay tribute to the vast majority of Comrades who went through the process without incident and upheld the highest traditions of the PNP's internal democracy,” added Phillips.

He told journalists that having come through the campaign the party is mindful of all the issues raised and, in particular, the clear message sent by the delegates, “we want a unified party”.

According to Phillips, Bunting and the Comrades who supported Rise United can be assured that they remain in his highest consideration and comradeship.

“In the finest traditions of the party I will be the president for all, not just for some.

“Comrade Bunting and I held a first meeting yesterday [Tuesday] at which we discussed a number of issues and we reaffirmed our commitment to cooperate fully for the success of the People's National Party,” said Phillips.

He added that in his discussion with Bunting they came to a number of agreements, including the naming of the teams led by the two campaign managers which will meet in the coming days to resolve any issues which have the potential for causing conflict.

Phillips also said that with the election out of the way the OnePNP and Rise United campaign teams will be dismantled.

“There will be no recrimination or victimisation of any form even as the normal party functions,” said Phillips as he later announced that Bunting's supporters, some of whom have offered their resignations from the party's council of spokespersons, will be included in the new shadow cabinet to be named after the public session of the party's 81st annual conference on September 22.

“We both agreed that our supporters should desist from attacks on other party supporters in social media or otherwise, and that the party's Code of Conduct and rules should be observed. We know that a united PNP has always been victorious in general elections,” said Phillips.

“We are calling on all members and supporters to now focus on unifying and strengthening the party, as Jamaica needs a strong PNP,” declared the confirmed party president.


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