PNP officials mostly mum on challenge, but...

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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Several members of the People's National Party (PNP) emerged from last evening's meeting of the party's executive and councillor caucus at PNP headquarters in St Andrew tight-lipped about Peter Bunting's declared leadership challenge to Dr Peter Phillips.

However, senior party member and Opposition Senator KD Knight said, while he has not had time to think about what is unfolding, theoretically speaking, Peter Bunting's timing could be viewed as ill-advised.

“If I were a challenger, I wouldn't do it now. If I'm thinking strategically I wouldn't do it now. If I were the party leader, I wouldn't fear a challenge at any point,” Knight said.

Bunting declared his hand in a statement to the party last weekend, ending months of speculation that he would challenge Phillips, who rose to the helm by way of acclamation.

The PNP's Constitution permits Bunting's decision, however it stipulates that a challenge can take place outside of the party's annual conference, held in September if approved by the party's president or executive.

Yesterday, former party chairman Robert Pickersgill commented that the current situation was above him, stating that “it is big people thing” before hurrying off.

Clarendon South Eastern caretaker/candidate Patricia Duncan-Sutherland declined to comment on the issue while insisting that the matter is for PNP members to discuss.

Her colleague in the neighbouring constituency of Clarendon South Western Noel Arscott, too, said he would reserve his opinion for private discussions.

Member of Parliament and former Vice-President Dr Angela Brown Burke said Bunting's decision reflected a part of the democracy of the PNP.

“It is what it is, and I think that persons are going to eventually decide who they want to support. but I am just asking for us to just remember that it is all about the People's National Party and what we stand for, and making sure that we come out of this stronger and better to face the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party),” she told the Jamaica Observer.

St Ann South Eastern Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna was firm in confirming that she would continue to support the party leader.

“I stated my position and I support Comrade Peter Phillips and that hasn't changed,” said Hanna.

Councillor for the Trafalgar Division in St Andrew South Eastern Kari Douglas told the Observer that some party members are open to seeing the results of the challenge.

Douglas said she has not yet made a decision in terms of whom to support as both candidates have made valuable contributions to the PNP and Jamaica.

“Dr Phillips has made a sterling contribution to this party and to this nation during his time in representational politics, which is extensive. Peter Bunting, similarly, has been doing very well publicly recently. I think he also appeals a lot to younger elected representatives like myself and generally the younger cohort of Jamaicans. So, I'm still trying to weigh and balance, but I can't say yet who I'm supporting,” said Douglas.


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