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Counsel of wise men to guide JLP

Published:Saturday | January 31, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

STRIVING TO ensure that a united party is ready whenever Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller decides to return to the polls, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness has appointed a 'Council of Wise Men' to guide the party over troubled waters.

The council, led by Dr Ken Baugh, who is on his way out of representational politics, includes long-serving JLP members such as Derrick Smith, Karl Samuda and Mike Henry.

"It's a council of wise men, senior advisors that will guide the development of the party," Holness told The Gleaner, following a media briefing on Thursday.

"Yes, there is a formal process of the party for dispute resolution and disciplinary action. This body of persons may not be formal members, but they will be available to advise these committees as to what to do," added Holness.

According to the JLP leader, the party elders "will be part of the process of dispute resolution, conflict resolution and, importantly, they will be part of the process of defining what are the core principles of the party that we should abide by".

Gleaner sources say the council has already met twice in an effort to quell testy internal matters.

"This discussion has been going on for more than six months. We have had about two meetings so far, just looking at the party and where we are going. They have actually intervened in issues and are actually working in dispute resolution. And we consult. We actually consult with former leaders and former prime ministers," stated Holness.

He told The Gleaner that he has been consulting with former JLP leaders Edward Seaga and Bruce Golding on an array of issues including matters of national interest and issues fundamental to the party.

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP

Holness said his "special relationship" with Seaga is well known, and Golding has always made himself available.

"Bruce has been very accessible to me. In fact, I get more emails from Bruce than I get from most people. Bruce continues to follow up public affairs and he will ask what you think about this and that. We have an excellent relationship," he stated.

Two weeks ago, West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz sent an SOS to Seaga and Golding to address urgent internal matters.

According to Vaz, the JLP was badly in need of the expertise of the two former leaders, given their decades of experience in the political process.

But Holness said while he would not comment directly on the call by Vaz, the two former leaders could confirm that he communicates with them on a regular basis.