PNP in limbo
Party postpones annual conference and election of president and vice-presidents because of COVID-19 third waveTuesday, September 14, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
THE People's National Party (PNP) has decided to postpone its 83rd annual conference which was slated to be held this weekend.
This has opened fresh wounds in the already fractured party with some senior PNP insiders claiming they had not been informed about the postponement.
“It is sad, very sad, that the secretariat has not communicated to the membership and the general public if the party will have its annual conference,” one PNP insider told the Jamaica Observer last weekend.
“One of the main exercises of the annual conference is the election of a president and four vice-presidents, and I may have missed the meeting when that was done,” was the insider's tongue-in-cheek remark.
But PNP General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell told the Observer that the conference is postponed while the party reassesses data based on the COVID-19 situation in Jamaica.
This means that Mark Golding will remain as the PNP's president until whenever the conference is held, while the party will remain without its vice-presidents following the July resignations of Damion Crawford, Wykeham McNeil, Mikael Phillips, and Phillip Paulwell, who was doubling up as the party's chairman.
Ian Hayles, the former Member of Parliament (MP) or Hanover Western; Mayor of Spanish Town Norman Scott; Eugene Kelly, councillor for the Whitfield Town Division in St Andrew South Western; and Richard Azan, the former MP for Clarendon North Western, are waiting in the wings to assume the four vice-president posts as they are expected to be elected unopposed whenever the annual conference is held.
Section 216 of the PNP's Constitution makes it clear that, “The supreme authority of the party shall be the Annual National Party Conference, which shall be held in the month of September at such time and place as the National Executive Council (NEC) shall decide.”
The constitution notes that the following business shall be transacted at the National Annual Conference: “Elect the president and the four vice-presidents; receive and deal with the annual report of the party; receive and deal with the financial statement of the party; deal with matters of party policy; receive and deal with the annual report of the parliamentary group; among other issues.
Under the PNP's constitution, “as soon as possible” after the party's annual conference each year, its NEC, the party's second-highest body, should meet to elect a chairman, a deputy chairman, and 11 other people to serve as members of its Executive Committee.
Last year the PNP transformed its annual conference into a Special Delegates' Conference where Golding was elected the party's sixth president, defeating St Ann South Eastern MP Lisa Hanna.
Hanna is slated to host her annual constituency conference tomorrow with Golding, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson and former party president Dr Peter Phillips as special guest speakers.
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