The People’s National Party (PNP) was yesterday holding firm to its decision to not participate in a leadership debate with the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), even as church and private sector leaders urged the ruling party to reconsider.
|Portia & Andrew|
With the window for the three planned debates closing fast ahead of general elections next week Thursday, PNP General Secretary Paul Burke insisted that JLP leader Andrew Holness had still not met the demands made by the PNP that would change the governing party’s stance.
“Our position is that Mr Holness had some questions to answer; he has not answered them satisfactorily. He also had two apologies to make, which he has refused, so we’re not going to be in any dialogue or discussion with Mr Holness,” Burke told the Jamaica Observer yesterday evening.
The PNP had demanded that Holness apologise to its president, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, for what it labelled defamatory comments he made about her on Nomination Day.
The party also said that Holness needed to apologise for describing as “an act of terror”, a deadly shooting at a JLP rally in Montego Bay two Sundays ago.
According to the PNP, Holness’s characterisation of the shootings had the potential to trigger political violence.
The police have determined that the shooting, that left two people dead and six injured, was not politically motivated.
In addition to the apologies, the PNP had insisted that Holness needed to answer questions about the funding of his house in Beverly Hills, St Andrew.
On Monday, Holness answered the questions relating to the financing of his house and said he was now looking forward to debating Simpson Miller.
But that has not swayed the PNP, which has been receiving heavy flak for the decision, with some critics suggesting that the party was merely shielding the prime minister from the debate.
Among the critics was the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), which said that the issues of the debate and the PNP’s beef with Holness must be separated.
“The debates should take place and then there are other avenues to address the questions (such as) Parliament and the political ombudsman,” JCC Secretary General Rev Gary Harriott told the Observer yesterday. more