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“I have not and will not take a side.”
The former President of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Portia Simpson Miller made this declaration recently. Simpson Miller made her comment in a statement posted on her Twitter account two days ago. She also encouraged her party comrades to keep the leadership campaign respectful and clean.
Simpson Miller’s statement came in the wake of the PNP leadership challenge mounted by Central Manchester Member of Parliament, Peter Bunting. Bunting is seeking to unseat Dr. Peter Phillips who is the current President of the PNP.
Don’t Use My Name and Image
Also, Portia Simpson Miller asked in her statement that the campaign not use her name and image. Her request to distance her name and likeness from this potentially divisive campaign is in a bid to counter any speculation that she is in favour of either of the Peters. She did not want anything to suggest that she intended to take a side in this leadership race.
Further, Simpson Miller encouraged her comrades to campaign vigorously for their candidate. She, however, cautioned that they should be mindful that following an internal contest the party must continue its preparation for the next General Elections.
The next General Elections are constitutionally due in 2021.
Simpson Miller also declared that her first loyalty and duty are always with the People’s National Party.
Internal Election Date Not Confirmed
The PNP has not yet confirmed a date for the election of the leader. Initially, expectations were that the elections for a new party leader would be held in September during the party’s annual conference.
However, the party is to arrange the logistics for a special meeting of the party for the internal elections. Dr. Peter Phillips had requested that the party settles the matter surrounding the leadership challenge early. He had no desire for this matter to drag on and interfere with the agenda of the September party conference.
Disquiet in the PNP over Upcoming Campaign
Meanwhile, there is much division within the PNP among supporters of Dr. Phillips and Mr. Bunting. Party insiders also contended that the timing of Bunting’s challenge against Phillips was bad. Noting that internal leadership challenges will set the party back, the insiders condemned Bunting’s decision to mount the challenge at this time.
For his part, Peter Bunting defended his decision as the right one. One of his rationales was that the PNP under Dr. Phillip’s leadership will not succeed against the Andrew Holness led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the next General Elections.
Each Peter contends that sufficient supporters are in his corner to ensure success in the internal elections.
So, as the leadership challenge unfolds, the PNP continues to be in the headlines. One could only wait for the final outcome of what can be considered an exciting contest between two contenders who believe they are the right choice for leadership of the 81-year old PNP ahead of the upcoming General Elections.