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Rage in the green house ... as another member charges that he is being illegally blocked from entering representational politics

Published:Sunday | November 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Desmond McKenzie

The internal battle to represent the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in local government and general elections is heating up with charges mounting that the leadership is ignoring the constitution in selecting some candidates.

Days after the former caretaker for North West St Ann, Othneil Lawrence, filed an injunction seeking to block efforts to replace him, a potential candidate to replace the ailing Lorna Leslie in the Denham Town division in West Kingston is accusing the party's leadership of blocking his selection.

West Kingston resident, Jermaine Hyatt, who has set his sights on replacing the long-serving councillor, has charged that the member of parliament for the constituency and JLP deputy leader for Area Council One, Desmond McKenzie, has refused to allow a run-off to select a candidate for the local government elections, due next March.

In a letter to JLP Chairman Robert Montague, Hyatt said he was in total confusion as it relates to the process of selecting a councillor/caretaker for the division.

According to Hyatt, based on his limited knowledge, the constitution of the JLP is being shunted aside in this process.

"I, being one of the prospective candidates, have not received the list of eligible party workers to vote in this selection process to date," wrote Hyatt.

He alleged that in a meeting at the start of this month, McKenzie told party workers that he would make the choice for the councillor candidate, and that there would be no voting by the delegates.

"This kind of action is distasteful, unbecoming and a blatant disregard for the rights of the people. Being a part of several meetings in the past four weeks has left a very bitter taste in my mouth," declared Hyatt.

"The perception, which I have received, is that the party's constitution and anthem only applies when it's in the best interest of a few ... and equal rights and justice is not for all," added Hyatt.

But McKenzie has refuted these claims. He told The Sunday Gleaner that while he has seen the letter which was addressed to Montague, there is no plan to select a caretaker for the division as there is no vacancy.

According to McKenzie, Leslie has not officially signalled that she will be stepping down.

"I can't comment further as the councillor has not made a decision to quit, as far as I know," said McKenzie, as he noted that Hyatt is one of a number of persons eyeing the position.