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Comrades tune up election machinery at delegates session

Published:Sunday | September 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
PNP delegates inside the National Arena for yesterday's session of the party's 77th annual conference.

In what is generally accepted to be its last annual conference before the next general election, the People's National Party (PNP) cranked up its election machinery yesterday as it prepared for an all-out attempt to retain power.

At a well-attended delegates session of its 77th annual conference, leaders of the PNP erased all doubt that it is in full election mode.

"Commence election preparations. Establish campaign committees. Begin the training of campaign committee and constituency trainers. Identify and train election volunteer workers, and begin preparations of constituency achievement and candidate brochures," PNP General Secretary Paul Burke told the delegates in his annual report.

"The charge for victory is recruitment (and this) is Comrades' responsibility. Canvassing is every Comrade's responsibility, and communication is every Comrade's responsibility," added Burke.

He said there should be the mandatory canvassing of all polling division which were won by the PNP as the priority of the delegates, with this to be completed by the end of September.

When asked by our news team if this was an election conference, Burke beat a hasty retreat to the back of the arena without answering.

However, PNP vice-president Angela Brown Burke was more responsive, even as she remained elusive.

"Chances are we may not have another conference before the election, which is due by December next year, so there is a 50-50 chance that this is the last conference before the election," said Brown Burke.

But Deputy General Secretary Luther Buchanan was clear on where the PNP is headed.

"Yes, we are ready, and yes, we are in election mode. But I will remind you of the words of the founding father, the late N.W. Manley. Organise, organise, organise. What you see here today is the fulfilment of that organisation," said Buchanan.

PNP president, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, addressed the delegates late yesterday after former president P.J. Patterson, with both reportedly stressing the importance of being organised for the election.

Simpson Miller had already put the nation on election watch and senior members of the party repeated that while she is the only person who can call the election, they are making sure that if is called today they are ready.

"I don't think she will be giving the call today but the party will be ready when she calls," said member of parliament for South East St Andrew, Dr Omar Davies, while Patricia Duncan Sutherland, who is expected to be the PNP's new candidate in South East Clarendon, argued that the is ready for the polls.

However, PNP vice-president Derrick Kellier signalled that the election could be any day now, saying Simpson Miller would give the charge when the party is ready. "She will not give the charge if the party is not ready," said Kellier.