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Independents unite to unseat PNP, JLP

Published:Monday | February 15, 2016 | 2:00 AMChristopher Serju
Ras Astor Black

A WIN for even one of the candidates contesting the February 25 general election under its lighthouse symbol would be a very big deal for the National Democratic Movement (NDM), and, by extension, the country as well, according to chairman Michael Williams.

"We would like even one of the independents to win, at least to send a message to the parties that they are not invincible. That is really what we'd like to achieve. If one independent, or should I say, non-JLP or PNP person, was to win, it would send the clearest message to the PNP and the JLP that they are not invincible; that dem can't do anything that dem want to the country (just) because the two a dem agree to it," he told The Gleaner.

"It would also send a message to the electorate that people out there are thinking, and instead of staying away from the ballot and not voting at all, they should go out and vote for something other than JLP or PNP if they have the opportunity to," Williams continued.

This time around, the NDM, which has failed to put in a significant showing at the polls since its formation in 1995 under the leadership of Bruce Golding as a feasible third-party option to the PNP and JLP, is rallying other splinter groups and individuals under its banner, the brainchild of Ras Astor Black, who has failed to attract voters as an independent candidate.

He is hopeful that by joining forces against the two traditional parties - the PNP, formed by Norman Manley, and the JLP by Alexander Bustamante - they could begin to even slightly loosen the stranglehold of political tribalism on the hearts and minds of Jamaicans. The Rastafarian is optimistic that the NDM coalition could find enough strength in unity to send a strong wake-up call to the JLP and PNP.

"I have a movement called Jamaica Alliance Movement, and the movement is to bring everyone who don't like JLP or PNP into one movement - the third force. So the third force now is a combination of everyone who running independently, and the official independent party is the NDM," the colourful independent shared with The Gleaner.

The Electoral Office of Jamaica has registered seven candidates for the NDM; 10 independents; six for the Marcus Garvey People's Political Party; two for the People's Progressive Party; and one for Hope.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com