PNP says it's ready for by-elections

Sunday Observer staff reporter

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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The People's National Party (PNP) said it is in a state of readiness for the much anticipated parliamentary by-elections that are expected to be announced soon.

General Secretary Julian Robinson told journalists of the party's confidence yesterday at a press conference following the penultimate session of the PNP's 79th annual conference at the National Arena in Kingston.

“For the three by-elections we have campaign teams in place. The work has started and we are confident we'll win all three,” Robinson said.

“We know one is going to be more competitive than the other two, but we have a campaign team, we have an excellent candidate, he has been on the ground doing his work and whenever the date is announced we will be ready,” he continued.

Sources within the Jamaica Labour Party recently told the Jamaica Observer that the by-election for St Mary South Eastern was scheduled for November, with Electoral Commission of Jamaica workers expected to begin training next month.

Though it was not clear if the by-elections for St Andrew South Western and St Andrew Southern would be called soon, the source revealed that Prime Minister Andrew Holness was set to announce the by-elections for the two garrisons in October, prior to the death of Dr Winston Green who represented the the St Mary South Eastern constituency.

The St Andrew South Western and St Andrew Southern seats became vacant after the retirement of former Prime Minister and PNP President Portia Simpson Miller and Omar Davies from representational politics, respectively. They both announced their departure in June.

In a run-off for representatives, delegates selected Mark Golding to replace Davies, while Angela Brown Burke was victorious in her bid to take Simpson Miller's place. The PNP announced that Dr Shane Alexis, former head of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association, was chosen to represent the party in St Mary South Eastern.

Meanwhile, in yesterday's private session at the conference, PNP president Dr Peter Phillips and vice-presidents Angela Brown Burke, Fenton Ferguson, Wykeham McNeill and Noel Arscott were returned unopposed.

“The president was confirmed in accordance with the constitution and so were the four vice-presidents. An aspect of that part of the proceedings is that the business of nomination for the posts of president and vice-president was regularised and will be put into the constitution,” Chairman Robert “Bobby” Pickersgill said.

The party also sought the opinion of delegates who were separated in groups to discuss policies relating to education, youth, health care, land, and national security.

“Every single delegate who came here today had an opportunity to participate in the formulation of policy. Obviously, not everything that was said will become policy, but the feedback will go back to the [party's] Policy Commission for them to refine it and then to have discussions across the party from the regions to all the arms and affiliates so that the policy really is a bottom-up policy and not a top-down policy,” Robinson stated, noting that the recommendations were all presented to the conference.

With roughly 50 groups, he said they were also instructed to perform an annual general meeting to formulate a group plan that would address enumeration, outreach and recruitment.

“We also addressed two resolutions, one was administrative, and there is another resolution from the Jamaica National Movement out of the US that proposed using a contribution from remittances to build a development fund for the country. We have decided that we will refer that resolution to the Policy Commission for further discussion and to iron out some of the details,” he told reporters.

Dr Phillips, in his speech to the delegates, was said to have addressed the importance of discipline and unity within the party to focus on building the country.

Robinson said that at today's public forum, the party anticipates an “overflowing crowd” when Dr Phillips will make his first major presentation as PNP president.

“It was an excellent day and the party leader, a couple minutes ago, finished his second statement as party leader to the conference of delegates. We are looking forward to tomorrow (today) for him to address the public session of conference and based on the attendance today (yesterday) we are anticipating a great tomorrow,” Pickersgill stated.

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