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Mikael Phillips aims for chairmanship

Published:Saturday | July 11, 2015 | 7:00 AMGary Spaulding

First-time Parliamentarian Mikael Phillips is set to take on the nightmarish Region Five of the People's National Party (PNP).

Phillips told The Gleaner that he had his eyes on the chairmanship despite the tumult in Region Five comprising Manchester and St Elizabeth.

Parliamentary representative of the strong North West Manchester constituency, Phillips said that it was not a vice-presidential position that occupied his attention at this point.

"A vacancy will exist in August when the current region chairman, Senator Wensworth Skeffery, has been elevated to the position of deputy general secretary," said Phillips, the son of Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Peter Phillips, a former PNP general secretary and vice-president.

Added Phillips: "This means that with the existence of such a vacancy, I will be putting myself forward."

By all indications, Phillips will have his hands full as he moves to quell the unrest in troubled St Elizabeth.

A member of three standing parliamentary committees - Economy and Production, Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, and the Internal and External Affairs Committee - Phillips asserted that he was confident in approaching the mantle of the regional leadership.

"I am not the first, nor will I be the last parliamentarian to be regional chairman," he said. "There is Lisa Hanna, who chairs Region One; Dr Morais Guy in Two; Phillip Paulwell in Three; Denise Daley in Four; and Dr D.K. Duncan in Six."

But although there is no vacancy in Region Six, Ian Hayles, second-term member of Parliament for the constituency of Western Hanover, has confirmed to The Gleaner that he will be challenging Duncan for the position ahead of September's annual conference.

 

Mounting pressure

 

Region Five comprises the stormy South West St Elizabeth seat on which first-term parliamentarian Hugh Buchanan and Raymond Pryce in North East St Elizabeth are under severe pressure mounted by fellow Comrades.

Additionally, PNP Region Five has assigned its vice-chairman, Hopeton McCatty, to take charge of the North West St Elizabeth constituency organisation in the wake of reports of disunity.

Skeffery told delegates and supporters that the move was intended to give the PNP a "fighting chance" to wrest North West St Elizabeth from the Jamaica Labour Party's J.C. Hutchinson in the next parliamentary elections.

Hutchinson has held the traditionally strong Jamaica Labour Party seat since 1997.