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Paulwell backs Phillips, Bunting confirms eye on PNP presidency

Published:Tuesday | April 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

As talk of leadership change continues to swirl around the People's National Party (PNP), two of the potential aspirants have shown their hands, while President Portia Simpson Miller appears to be standing her ground.

With no clear sign that any vacancy is on the political horizon, Region Three Chairman Phillip Paulwell and former PNP General Secretary Peter Bunting - two of the senior Comrades viewed as prospective successors to Simpson Miller - have emerged with contrasting positions.

Paulwell has not ruled out a bid in the future for the top position, but told The Gleaner it was not yet his time.

Support's Phillips

He has given the nod instead to Dr Peter Phillips, a former deputy leader and general secretary of the party, who challenged Simpson Miller for the top position eight years ago.

"If and when the leader goes, my irrevocable support is for Comrade Peter Phillips," said Paulwell.

Asked if he had lost interest in the leadership of the PNP, Paulwell said: "No, but I don't think my time is now."

Bunting, who stressed that he was in no haste to rise to the zenith of the PNP, said: "At the appropriate time, I intend to put my hat in the ring. When will that be is still to be determined."

He added: "I am keen not to do anything but to suggest that I have anything but the greatest respect and affection for the party leader.

"I believe that it is ideal that she determines the timetable for her departure."

For her part, Simpson Miller refused to release a schedule of any departure from the political landscape in which she has been a participant for 40 years.

Yesterday, she rebuffed questions fired by journalists about her timetable to call it a day.

"I am not the only political leader in Jamaica who has lost an election and I didn't hear a call for others to step aside," she said.

"So I don't know why there is a call now for me to step aside. Is it because I am of a different gender?"

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com