ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny — Though speculation is rife that Prime Minister Andrew Holness might call a by-election in Trelawny Southern to fill the vacancy left by the sudden resignation of Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, general secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) Dr Dayton Campbell has made it clear that his party's focus is now on the general and local government polls.
"Our focus is really on having our candidates in place. I am of the view that the prime minister will call a general election before the illicit six are named. That's my opinion. I don't believe he is going to allow those persons to be named, especially with the precedence that Dalrymple-Philibert would have set: that you resign not only from whatever position you have in the Parliament or in the executive but also from the constituency," Campbell told the reporters after a meeting of the PNP's National Executive Council (NEC) in Albert Town, Trelawny, on Sunday.
His "illicit six" reference is to the Integrity Commission's (IC) revelation, earlier this year, that it was investigating six parliamentarians for illicit enrichment. Both the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Opposition PNP have said none of their members are among the six. The PNP has steadily insisted that the prime minister should name the six, though it is unlikely — under the IC's rules of investigations — Holness would have that information.
The call for the six to be named was repeated at Sunday's meeting by both Campbell and PNP President Mark Golding.
Both men also said they were caught off-guard by Dalrymple-Philibert's resignation as Member of Parliament (MP).
"That wasn't, as far as we were concerned, the necessary results from what took place. But it has happened, and then we notice that the press release that came, ostensibly from her, spelt her name incorrectly — both the first name and surname," Golding said.
"So we're wondering really what was going on there. But, anyway, it is what it is, and we're glad that the Jamaican society stood up for what is right and ensured that the integrity of our Parliament was protected and preserved," he added.
Dalrymple-Philibert stepped aside as Speaker of the House and MP after an IC ruling that she should be slapped with eight charges in connection with the use of a concession on customs duty during the 2015 purchase of a Mercedes Benz and her subsequent failure to include the luxury vehicle in her statutory declarations for six years.
In her resignation letter, she said she "did not knowingly mislead the Integrity Commission, it was a genuine oversight". She served as MP for Trelawny Southern for 16 years.
On Sunday, Campbell painted a picture of a PNP that is strong in the parish and said he was happy with the turnout for the NEC event.
"We were already slated to be in Trelawny, so that was a coincidence, I guess. But it was a good day. We had a good turnout from the different regions, arms, and affiliates of the party. We continue to press along with our programmes of work and with our preparations for the impending elections," he said.
During the meeting, there were internal elections for chairman, deputy chairman, and the members of the executive.