KINGSTON, Jamaica – The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), which has lost two by-elections since it was swept out of office in the 2016 general election, on February 5 said it would not be contesting a by-election to fill the seat vacated Tuesday night (February 4) by the Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Rudyard Spencer.
Spence, who has been the parliamentary representative for the South East Clarendon constituency since 2002, announced his resignation with immediate effect on Tuesday night in Parliament, amid speculation that he is to take up an ambassadorial appointment soon.
Following his resignation, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a by-election on March 2, for the constituency of South East Clarendon, with nomination day on Wednesday, February 12.
The PNP addressed Spencer’s resignation, by saying that the party’s Caretaker for the seat, Patria Duncan Sutherland, would sit out a by-election.
In a public statement released on February 5, the party said that the decision not to contest any by-election to fill the seat is based on the fact that it would be taking place close to the next general election, constitutionally due next year.
PNP General Secretary, Julian Robinson, said that while the party wished Spencer well in his retirement, “his resignation has not been occasioned by any personal or national emergency, but by the political exigencies of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to settle the political wrangling between Senators Pearnel Charles, Jr and Robert Morgan.
“Jamaica could not, therefore, reasonably be expected to provide the Electoral Office of Jamaica with $30 million to pay for a contrived by-election, when general elections, expecting to cost over one billion dollars, are due within months,” Robinson said, adding that Prime Minister Andrew Holness, recently hinted that the general election could be called shortly.
Robinson said that as a result, both the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the PNP, as well as the EOJ, have been preparing for elections.
“The PNP respects the right of the people of South East Clarendon to have Parliamentary representation, but has no intention of following the JLP into this unnecessary and wasteful political exercise which will be a carnival of spending state resources, as were the cases in the two previous by-elections,” Robinson added.
There has been speculation here that Spencer could be heading to the Jamaican mission in Germany.
The Jamaica Observer newspaper quoting JLP sources said that the resignation was part of a deal brokered by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, to prevent an internal feud over who is to represent the party in Clarendon South Eastern and Clarendon North Central, where the 84-year-old Pearnel Charles Sr is also expected to walk away from representational politics.
Pearnel Charles Jr and Parliamentary Secretary Robert Morgan have both expressed an interest in replacing Charles Sir and the paper said that Spencer’s resignation was ‘to prevent what was shaping up to be a bitter battle over who is to replace Charles Sr.
Spencer’s resignation also paves the way for a third by-election since the JLP came to power in 2016. Since then the party has won the last two by-elections, including the victory of AnnMarie Vaz who last year, captured the Portland Eastern seat, ending the PNP’s 30-year hold in the constituency.