WESTMORELAND, Jamaica - A handful of placard-bearing People's National Party (PNP) supporters took to the streets on Sunday to voice their opposition to the possibility of Dwayne Vaz being announced as the party's standard -bearer for the Westmoreland Central constituency.
The comrades' short protest which took place outside the gates of the Petersfield High School in the parish where a constituency conference is currently underway, was interrupted by supporters of Vaz.
Vaz is expected to be announced as the standard-bearer later tonight.
However, one party supporter from Ricketts Avenue in Savanna-la-Mar South Division, Helen Hibbert, argued that while she is in support of attorney-at-law Dionne Meyler Barrett, anyone apart from Vaz is welcome.
"We don't want anybody who resigned coming back into Westmoreland Central. We want somebody who we… even if we get a donkey, we will support the donkey,” she said.
Vaz first won the seat in a by-election following the death of former Member of Parliament (MP) Roger Clarke, but later lost the seat to George Wright who contested on Jamaica Labour Party' s ticket in the 2020 general election. Wright later became an independent MP.
Hibbert, who claimed that she was once a supporter of Vaz, said the people want somebody who will represent them.
“We want somebody who will walk with the people and hear the people them," stated Hibbert, who made it clear that she will not vote if Vaz is selected.
Another supporter, Maxine Dailey shared similar sentiments.
"...You can't get any help from him and we don't like those things. So, if the party throws Dwayne Vaz on us, you know what is going to happen, we are not voting and all the divisions in Westmoreland Central are going back to the Labourites," stated Dailey, in reference to the local government election which is due in February of next year.
Meyler Barrett expressed surprised at the protest.
She noted that she had expressed an interest in the position if Vaz had failed to increase his popularity, but she was advised that he was successful and he would be the party's standard-bearer for the constituency.
“This news is a surprise to me. I had expressed an interest to run in the event that Mr Vaz had failed to carry out the three month program of work he was given to do to raise his popularity numbers. We were advised that he had done well and would be the candidate. I graciously accepted the decision and thanked my supporters for their efforts. I am currently overseas on vacation and would not approve such an action,” Meyler Barrett said.
The constituency currently has five municipal corporation divisions - three of which are controlled by the JLP and one vacant following the elevation of Wright, who was elected as MP.
The divisions are: Frome, Petersfield, Cornwall Mountain, Savanna-la-Mar North and Savanna-la-Mar South.
- Anthony Lewis