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PM facing three-way Senate tug of war

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An unusual three-way tug of war has developed in the leadership of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as factions try to nudge Prime Minister Andrew Holness to select a candidate of their choice to fill the seat left vacant in the Senate by the sudden resignation of Ruel Reid last Wednesday.

Holness has promised that he will announce his Senate pick when he returns to the island, from his meeting with US President Donald Trump today, but senior members of the party are reportedly split, not over whom he should appoint, but the qualifications of persons they want to fill the vacant seat.

Jamaica Observer sources say there is one faction urging the prime minister to select an intellectual from outside the political fray who would enter the Senate and could be appointed to the Cabinet to take control of the Ministry of Education immediately.

That would not be unusual for Holness, who in 2013 pulled Dr Nigel Clarke from the private sector and Reid, then principal of Jamaica College, to replace seasoned political campaigners Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton in the Senate.

Those appointments were later overturned by the court which reinstated both Williams and Tufton, but Holness would face no such legal challenge this time around as Reid resigned and was not forced out.

The faction pushing for an intellectual with an academic background argue that Holness has already shown that he will go with horses for course and select the person he thinks is best suited for the education portfolio.

They noted that just over one year ago Holness tapped Clarke to be his finance minister and with the resignation of Derrick Smith as Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western, Clarke, despite no political experience, was parachuted into the seat. His victory in the subsequent by-election saw him immediately added to the Cabinet.

The second faction argues that the Government side in the Senate need to be strengthened with someone with strong in constitutional law.

According to persons in that faction, with Tom Tavares-Finson serving as president of the Senate, Ransford Braham is the only person on the Government benches strong in constitutional law and with Donna Scott Mottley joining KD Knight on the Opposition side in recent times, the Government could find itself outfoxed in matters of law.

According to members of the third faction, Holness needs to appoint a solid, experienced Labourite to defend the party’s position on matters in the Senate.

That group argues that opposition senators, led by Lambert Brown, use every occasion to try to score political points in the Upper House, often raising issues which are not related to the matters being debated, just to take jabs at the Government.

Members of the group are pushing Holness to appoint someone who will provide a counterfoil to their opposition counterparts who have scored several political points in the Senate in recent time.

 

 

 

 

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