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PNP opens ears to voters' concerns

Published:Wednesday | April 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

As election fever intensifies both internally and nationally, the People's National Party (PNP) has set up an islandwide sounding board.

Activities at the Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew reached fever pitch yesterday, less than two days after PNP President Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller met with agitated Comrades in St Elizabeth.

"I think the party is in a positive mood, but there is work to do," said PNP General Secretary Paul Burke. "We need to improve on our communication and have more contact with the people."

As Comrades in North East St Elizabeth and South West St Elizabeth gear up for an internal battle, party central has signalled that it is ready to take the fight to the rival Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

But even as the party prepares for battle, at least two Comrades are seeking to replace Raymond Pryce as the PNP candidate for North East St Elizabeth in the next general election, while Hugh Buchanan is coming under pressure in South West St Elizabeth.

Burke disclosed that as of next week, the party will be engaging in a series of face-to-face engagements with Jamaicans.

"They will be more of a listening than talking session from the top. The presentations from the leadership are going to be very restricted to allow us to listen," said Burke.

There was a huge turnout in St Elizabeth on Sunday when Simpson Miller met not with the political aspirants but the executive members of South West St Elizabeth and North East St Elizabeth.

In South West St Elizabeth, supporters of Buchanan, son of late veteran parliamentarian Donald Buchanan, are banking on the fortunes of December 2011 when he overcame a 2,000-vote deficit and emerged victorious. He is likely to be challenged former banker and businessman Ewan Stephenson.

In North East St Elizabeth, Pryce is set to be challenged by former cricketer Wavell Hinds and Santa Cruz businessman Evon Redmond.