Regional

JLP will not allow PNP to use Tivoli enquiry as election platform — Holness

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2014    

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BARRETT TOWN, St James - Opposition leader Andrew Holness has warned that his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP ) will not sit by and allow the riling People's National Party (PNP) to use the pending enquiry 2010 deadly incursion in Tivoli Gardens as a platform from which to launch their 2016 election campaign.

"What they (PNP) want to do is use it as an election ploy. But let me tell you it won't happen. This time we are going to stand up in the commission," the JLP leader said.

"We are going to empower the people in West Kingston and going talk the things about crime in this country, because the PNP is far more culpable so I want you to appreciate and understand that we not running from any commission this trip," Holness stated.

Holness, who was speaking Sunday at the East Central St James annual conference held at the John Rollins All Age School, condemned the PNP of wanting to score political points from the mass killing in Tivoli Gardens.

"You know what is really sad? It is sad that the PNP would seek to make political mileage out of the death of 77 Jamaicans. That is the real shame," the Opposition leader stressed.

Holness emphasised that he welcomed the commission of enquiry, even as he would have preferred, among other things, a truth and reconciliation commission.

"What I really wanted was a truth and reconciliation commission. What I really wanted was a coroner's inquest because I want to see which gun killed who. And I want to bring an end to this situation where you have a part of Jamaica which is not treated as a part of Jamaica; where the police and the army, when they go there, a whole heap of people die," Holness argued.

"If 77 people are killed in any country that deserves the attention of the Government in a very detailed process of investigating how that happened. So we agree that the atrocity that was committed in West Kingston must be investigated," the Opposition leader added.

The 2010 West Kingston incursion, which began on May 23, ended with conflicting reports of the number of civilian deaths, with figures ranging from 73 to over 140. A policeman and a soldier were also killed and more than 500 people arrested as the security forces battled gunmen loyal to Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who was eventually captured a month later and extradited to the United States where he is now serving a 23-year sentence for racketeering.

In the meantime, Holness welcomed last week's withdrawal of attorney-at-law Velma Hylton's from the Commission of Enquiry. Concerns were raised about Hylton's inclusion on the panel of commissioners as a result of her participation in a previous enquiry into another police operation in Tivoli Gardens. The Opposition had threatened to seek international help if she was not withdrawn.

"We welcome the fact that the proposed commissioner has withdrawn herself from consideration and we want to see somebody who clearly has a deeper understanding of the human rights issues that are at play in this commission," Holness declared.

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