KINGSTON, Jamaica – On Sunday, Jamaica’s former Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting announce he will be challenging People National Party (PNP) and Opposition leader Dr. Peter Phillips for the leadership of the party conference next September.
Phillips said he welcomes the challenge to his leadership as it arguers well for the party gearing up for the next general election constitutionally due in 2021.
“The democratic tradition of the PNP remains vibrant and must ultimately be seen as an indication that comrades at all levels remain passionate about the party,” Phillips said, adding “I will not allow this challenge to endanger the viability of the PNP or its commitment to the Jamaican people to provide alternative leadership and effective governance”.
He said he wanted the challenge to be dealt with in a timely manner.
“Our paramount consideration must be to provide the Jamaican people with a strong and effective alternative to an out of control JLP government which has unleashed unprecedented scales of corruption on the Jamaican landscape,” Phillips said.
Bunting Sunday announced that he had thrown his hat into the leadership ring after claiming that following the party’s defeat in the last by-election in East Portland there has been increasing speculation about both the desirability and the likelihood of a change in leadership of the party.
Bunting ends speculation
“Uncertainty can be debilitating for a political movement, and an undeclared campaign is already starting to develop in social media and amongst party members. For good order and transparency, it is best that this speculation be put to rest as soon as possible.
“Therefore, I confirm that I am offering myself for president of the People’s National Party at the annual conference in September. This is a carefully considered decision which I believe to be in the best interest of the party and the country,” Bunting, 58, said in a statement.
Dedicated to party over many years in various roles
But Phillips, 69, who was elected to the top position in the PNP on March 26, 2017 following the party’s defeat in the 2016 general election, said that his dedication to the party is evident over many years in his various roles as general secretary, vice president, and campaign director.
“I am glad for the expressed support of the delegates, Parliamentary and leadership groups as well as Jamaicans from all walks of life and I want to assure them that I will not allow this challenge to endanger the viability of the PNP or its commitment to the Jamaican people to provide alternative leadership and effective governance,” said Phillips, who took over from former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller.
He said he wanted the party after the challenge to refocus its efforts on the critical national issues that are plaguing Jamaica at this time.
Not the right leader for this time
Bunting said that while Phillips has made an outstanding contribution to the party and the country in the various positions in which he has served over the past three decades, “however, since becoming president, he has not implemented a single transformational initiative within the party, and is just not seen as the right person for this time.
“There is also a growing acceptance/resignation in the general public and amongst various stakeholder groups, including party membership and supporters, civil society, and private sector leadership that the PNP under Dr Peter Phillips’ leadership cannot defeat the JLP in a general election. This will have negative consequences for voter support, organizational energy, and party/campaign funding.”