KINGSTON, Jamaica – The leaders of Jamaica’s two main political parties have expressed confidence in winning the September 3 general election as candidates were being nominated today for the polls.
Prime Minister Andrew Holnesss, who led the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to a 32-31 victory in the 2016 general election but ended up with 34 seats after by-elections in 2017 and 2019.victory in the 2016 election, said he was confident also of being retained as the parliamentary representative for the St. Andrew West Central.
“I have represented this constituency since September 15, 1997 making it almost 23 years. I remain committed to the people of West Central St. Andrew who placed their faith in me as a young entrant in the political scene back then and we have grown together.
“I have given them my best representation and will continue to give my best for the next 23 years,” Holness said, reminding the population that “as we campaign, we will do so civilly and safely, as we still have a challenge with COVID-19.
“I encourage all Jamaicans to follow the proper protocols outlined by the government; wear your masks, sanitize and social distance. We are resilient people, we know how to overcome challenges, and we will build back stronger.
“I encourage all Jamaicans to wear their masks, use hand sanitizer, and practice social distancing; remember we are still experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic and we must exercise caution,” he said.
Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, said that the People’s National Party (PNP) is not perturbed by opinion polls and is equally confident of winning the September 3 general election.
“In the Caribbean pollsters have gotten it dreadfully wrong in the last few months. In St. Kitts-Nevis, In Guyana….the polls that count are the polls on the ground,” said, Phillips, disputing also concerns about his health.
“I am very very healthy, I take no medication, I am fit and ready to go,” said the 70-year-old leader of the PNP, who earlier this year was treated for stage three colon cancer.
Phillips has been nominated to contest the East Central St Andrew constituency. He has held the seat since 1994,
Afterwards he told reporters that the COVID-19 pandemic “is definitely going to have an effect on the way the campaign is done.
“It is a fact, but there are other factors as well. The lack of economic growth…that has further worsened because of the coronavirus. The failure to tackle the major issues of violent crime, we have more than a 1,000 people who have died since 2016 as compared with the four years previously because of the failure to effectively develop a strategy to combat crime,” he said.
Both the PNP and the JLP will contest all the 63 seats in the Parliament and there are likely to be several candidates vying for seats in the Parliament
Meanwhile, the Office of the Political Ombudsman has launched an investigation into Monday night’s murder of political activist Paul Henry in Rocky Settlement, Clarendon South Eastern.
Henry was the polling division captain for incumbent JLP Clarendon South Eastern Member of Parliament, Pearnel Charles Jr. He was reportedly killed shortly after putting up a billboard.
“The death of Mr Paul Henry is very sad and must be condemned. We are investigating rapidly to determine whether or not this is in anyway politically motivated. We ask for restraint and promise swift action,” political ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown said in a Twitter message.
She has commended both the incumbent MP and the People’s National Party’s Patricia Duncan-Sutherland for publicly condemning the killing.