PNP chairman dismisses claims he is backing Hanna

PNP chairman dismisses claims he is backing Hanna

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, October 24, 2020

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CHAIRMAN of the People’s National Party (PNP) Fitz Jackson has rubbished allegations that he has endorsed Lisa Hanna in her bid to be elected to the party’s top job.

Since Thursday, supporters of the other candidate for the post — Mark Golding — have been questioning the neutrality of Jackson, after news emerged that he attended a meeting which Hanna hosted with delegates in his St Catherine Southern constituency.

But Jackson told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that while he attended the meeting, which was hosted by Hanna who wanted to make a pitch for support from the delegates in the constituency, it was not an endorsement of her candidacy.

“The Comrade invited me to her meeting with the delegates from my constituency, and I had instructed the constituency secretary to work with the two candidates to make the delegates available to meet with them. I did it that last time around in the [2019] presidential election, and I offered it to both [Dr Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting],” said Jackson.

“The Comrade wished to meet in my constituency and I am the political leader. As [PNP] chairman, I recognise my role to take no part in the election campaigning, no endorsement of any candidate, directly or indirectly, but I extended a civil conduct in welcoming her to the constituency, which I will extend to Mark Golding if the request is made,” added Jackson.

He argued that if Prime Minister Andrew Holness, or any other minister of Government, conducts a meeting in his constituency regarding matters of the constituency and invites him, he usually attends.

“I can’t not go because it is not the Government that I support, in much the same way that a fellow Comrade is having a meeting in my constituency, and at my office, I give them no less courtesy.

“This is not an endorsement on any candidate because I respect that role of neutrality…and what is a fact is that no one can point to any bias utterance on my part, in respect of this matter,” declared Jackson.

Since Monday when Hanna told the Observer that she enjoys the backing of 10 of the 14 sitting PNP Members of Parliament (MPs), supporters of Golding have been raising questions about the composition of that group and the role of members of the leadership of the party who are overseeing the November 7 election.

The Golding supporters have counted Angela Brown Burke, Anthony Hylton and Lothan Cousins among the sitting MPs backing their candidate, although Cousins yesterday told the Observer that he is not taking any sides in the race.

That would mean that Hanna would have to enjoy the support of Jackson, the party’s General Secretary Julian Robinson, and the outgoing President Dr Peter Phillips, who are all expected to be neutral in the contest, to take the number of sitting MPs backing her to 10.

 

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