MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Newly elected chairman of the 83-year-old People's National Party (PNP) Dr Angela Brown Burke is insisting that yesterday's chairmanship election was a show of comradeship.
Dr Brown Burke, the first woman to chair the party, amassed 147 votes to 121 received by Horace Dalley, a former deputy chairman, in the election which had a turnout of around 85 per cent of the members of the National Executive Council'the party's highest decision making body outside of annual conference.
“Today, for me is a really humbling moment, because I look at where this campaign started where the comrades really asked me to offer myself as chairman for the PNP. We went on an islandwide tour meeting [National Executive Council] members, talking with them, hearing their concerns, and sharing some ideas I had about the party,” she told journalists at the Kendal Camp and Conference Centre near this south central Jamaica town.
Senator Floyd Morris has been appointed as the new deputy chairman, while 11 members were elected to the party's executive.
Dr Brown Burke said the internal election showed that the PNP is working towards unity.
“…[M]aking sure that we are not just talking about unity, but we are doing unity. We are doing it, because we are socialising together, we [are] talking to one another. We are discussing issues and representing the interest of the Jamaican people as one single party,” she said.
“People were concerned about what this would mean for mashing up the party and for disunity, and we thought that we had an opportunity to show Jamaicans and to prove to ourselves, that as a democratic party, we could have an internal election that is just under 300 people going to vote and we can do it without tearing down one another,” she added.
The St Andrew South Western Member of Parliament's victory comes almost a year after she lost a previous bid to Phillip Paulwell to chair the party.
Dalley became acting chairman after Paulwell resigned from the post in July.
Dr Brown Burke said yesterday's symbolic gesture of exchanging campaign hats was a show of comradeship.
“I really lift my hat to everybody who was here today, with a spirit of camaraderie. We started the morning, Comrade Dalley and I exchanging hats as a sign that we were still one,” she said.
“We know that leaving here there is a lot of work still to be done, because we have been talking about that. Once upon a time, we used to talk about PAR (Participation Accountability and Responsibility) as governance principles; we have to go back to that,” she added.
Dalley thanked members of the party for their “calmness and camaraderie”.
“This went down very well for our party… She (Dr Brown Burke) is the winner, but the party won today. You saw the friendship between both camps. We were right here together,” he said.
“It is a close race. Let me say to all comrades this internal election is now over and it is now to focus on the work of the PNP to bring back the unity in the party. That was my only objective in offering myself to try to reach out to bridge the gap and to see if we can get our party on a united path,” he added.