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PNP trying to avoid contests for key posts

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PNP trying to avoid contests for key posts

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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Senior members of the People’s National Party (PNP) are now trying to negotiate agreements to avoid elections for the party’s new chairman and general secretary when its National Executive Council (NEC) next meets.

Sitting PNP Chairman Fitz Jackson and General Secretary Julian Robinson have both tendered their resignations, with their replacements to be elected on November 29 when the NEC, the party’s second-highest decision-making body, stages its first meeting after Saturday’s presidential election.

Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew Southern Mark Golding emerged a comfortable winner over St Ann South Eastern MP Lisa Hanna in the contest and PNP sources yesterday indicated that senior party members — including a number of “elders”, who authored an agreement for co-operation between the victor and the loser — are trying to avoid another potentially divisive contest.

“All efforts are now being made to have the party emerge as a unified one under the leadership of Mark, so another election, or two, would not be in our best interest,” said one senior Comrade.

“It should be easy to settle on a chairman as it will be either Anthony Hylton or Angela Brown Burke to replace Jackson, and with both being senior members of the successful Golding campaign, it should be easy to settle that,” added the Comrade.

He said the general secretary post is harder to settle as there is a suggestion that it should go to a Hanna supporter, to show the unity which Golding publicly spoke about after his 296-vote victory on Saturday.

But some vocal Golding supporters have argued that he should be given a general secretary who is sure to be in his corner, considering that he will spend the next year with the four vice-presidents who are already in place.

The Golding backers charge that three of the four vice-presidents — Phillip Paulwell, Mikael Phillips, and Dr Wykeham McNeil — had all come out in support of Hanna, while the fourth, Damion Crawford, did not say who he was backing.

“Mark will be working with three vice-presidents who did not want him to get the job, and one who he is not sure of. To ensure that his agenda is being pushed he needs a chairman and a general secretary who he can rely on. He also needs deputy gen secs [general secretaries], and a deputy chairman, who he can be sure will be in his corner.

“The best thing is to make Tony [Hylton] the chairman and Angela [Brown Burke] the deputy chairman, or vice-versa, while finding a general secretary who he would be sure of,” one party source told the Jamaica Observer.

Yesterday, Brown Burke told the Observer that her role in the leadership of the PNP under Golding is something she has not yet considered.

“My sole focus was towards the campaign and to ensure a Golding victory,” said Brown Burke, the MP for St Andrew South Western who served as Golding’s campaign director.

Hylton, who is now the PNP’s deputy chairman, served as chairman of the Golding campaign team. Efforts to contact Hylton yesterday were unsuccessful.

“Mark could spring a big surprise in who he puts forward as the general secretary he wants with the only guarantee being that it will not be one of the 14 sitting MPs,” said the source, who refused to say if the former Manchester Central MP and Golding strong backer Peter Bunting is being considered for the post.

Bunting previously served as the PNP’s general secretary from 2008 to 2014 when he resigned.

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