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Tension in constituency caused 'significant strain' on Pryce - Embattled PNP MP resigns as deputy general secretary

Published:Thursday | January 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Raymond Pryce: The current situation has caused significant strain and concern to me as member of parliament and officer of the party who holds the post of deputy general secretary/communication.

Although Raymond Pryce is no stranger to controversy, the battle-worn politician is being urged to 'smile at the storm with God in the vessel'.

"Them could a resign him, fire him, move him, as long as dem no kill him," said Andrea Charles, a declared Pryce loyalist.

"And guess what - Jah know and God know to - me and the people of North East St Elizabeth, just love MP Raymond Pryce even more and nothing is going to change that," she added.

Like the proverbial phoenix, Pryce has been able to rise from the ashes of controversies.

But it is left to be seen whether he will be able to soar again after resigning yesterday as deputy general secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) after a short stand-off.

It's been a double whammy for Pryce as he was released as the candidate for North East St Elizabeth, sparking the political row that has threatened to break him.

READ: How Raymond paid the 'Pryce'

Pryce's resignation letter was sent to PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, spurring another in a series of meetings with senior officers of the party this week.

"Situations within the political organisation of the PNP North Eastern St Elizabeth have - despite my best efforts to prevent same - continued to play out in a very public manner," wrote Pryce.

"All of us as comrades support the right of our membership to express opinions freely and to do so respectfully and within the established channels," he added.

Continued Pryce: "The current situation has caused significant strain and concern to me as member of parliament and officer of the party, who holds the post of deputy general secretary - communication."

Pryce said it was regrettable that the matters have detained much of the attention of the leadership of the party and have impacted on their collective ability to proceed on other crucial issues.

He described the situation as untenable.

"As a result and as a course of principle and respect to you personally and as party president and officers who had invited me to serve as deputy general secretary in the first place, I tender my resignation from that post and from the officer corps."

Pryce asserted that he remained convinced that, based on fact and experience, the PNP still presents the best opportunities for Jamaica's continued development.

"I will continue my membership in the party and will work earnestly to contribute to its advancement and that of the people of Jamaica," he said.

In his first term at Gordon House, Pryce also locked horns with political veteran JC Hutchinson in a parliamentary showdown that sparked verbal embers.

With Pryce being replaced as the PNP standard bearer in North East St Elizabeth by businessman Evon Redman, unyielding Pryce loyalists refused to let up, resulting in a series of protests that led to a massive stand-off at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew.

In the aftermath of his resignation, Pryce borrowed a poem from well-known author, Rudyard Kipling, signalling that he was down but not out.

But when The Gleaner made contact, Pryce opted not to divulge much.

"Speak to the party secretariat on that matter," he said.

Although the contention erupted in the last quarter of 2015, Pryce has come under renewed fire since throngs of his supporters descended on the PNP Old Hope Road headquarters on Monday, a week after another bout of protests disrupted life in the strong PNP constituency.

The bulk of the membership of the officer corps of the party has been clamouring for Pryce to be sanctioned in the aftermath of Monday's protest.

The party executive indicated in a statement that, contrary to reports, it had not voted or taken any decision to remove or suspend Pryce, notwithstanding the fact that many members expressed no confidence in him remaining as deputy general secretary.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com