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Holness to leave big names out of new-look council

Published:Thursday | January 29, 2015 | 1:01 AMGary Spaulding
Holness

When Opposition Leader Andrew Holness names his new-look council of spokespersons today, two prominent faces are not expected to be included.

They are Deputy Leader James Robertson and vocal agitator Daryl Vaz, a former treasurer of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Holness is expected to announce the return of former Justice Minister Delroy Chuck to the council, among a slate of sweeping changes as the party braces for national elections.

It is understood that Chuck will play a role in the justice portfolio.

Audley Shaw, the former finance minister and deputy leader who challenged Holness for the leadership position of the JLP in 2013, as well as Edmund Bartlett, have been brought back into the fold.

A source within the party told The Gleaner that Vaz and Robertson have been left out because of unresolved issues that threaten to have implications for the credibility of the council and, by extension, the party.

The United States' rescinding of Robertson's visitor's visa and a pending bribery case against Vaz have been cited as concerns.

"So there are legal and diplomatic issues involved," the source said.

Vaz recently appealed to former JLP leaders Edward Seaga and Bruce Golding - both former prime ministers - to help "rescue" the party.

"The slate is going to be very wide and all-inclusive as a number of persons have been brought in and consultations held, which is one of the reasons for the delay in making the announcement," the source said.

Holness, who has been criticised for being tardy in seizing the initiative to unite the JLP, will name what the JLP leadership has characterised as a reshuffled council of spokespersons during a press conference this morning.

Members and their deputies will be present for this event. But Holness' backers have described the process of selection as a corporate exercise that would allow persons to find their comfort zone within the leadership of the party.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com