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Fight to the end - PNP councillor vows to have Hanna removed as party standard-bearer

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott

Lydia Richards, the St Ann municipal councillor, who has been at the forefront of a revolt against her People's National Party (PNP) colleague, Lisa Hanna, vowed yesterday to continue her fight to oust the St Ann South East MP, an effort that she hopes will get the backing of the party's National Executive Council (NEC) when it meets on Sunday.

"We are going to fight to the end," Richards told The Gleaner yesterday.

"A mistake was made (by the PNP in choosing Hanna at its standard-bearer in the constituency), and we are correcting it."

Hanna was not immediately available for comment on this latest salvo against her.

Hanna, a former Miss World beauty queen, has been a member of parliament since 2007, when she was parachuted by the PNP's president, Portia Simpson Miller, into the constituency, considered one of the party's safest seats, to contest that year's general election, despite the objections of some local organisers.

Simmering tensions erupted into open warfare late last year as the PNP prepared for last February's general election, with three of the four municipal councillors in Hanna's region, including Richards, insisting that she be removed from the party's slate of candidates.

They claimed that she was underhanded, uncooperative, and lacking in understanding the ethos of the PNP as well as unappreciative of local experience.

But Hanna has countered that her critics were wedded to old ways of politics, including the perpetuation of patronage.

The infighting worsened in the run-up to Monday's municipal elections in which two former members of Hanna's constituency organisation, Vernon Williams and Anthony Simpson, resigned their posts to run as independent candidates, initially styling themselves as independent PNP.

 

DUPED BY HANNA

 

In both cases, they cost PNP votes, so much in one, Williams' Moneague division, that the JLP's Anthony Kelly won the seat.

Richards sees Hanna's hand in the venture and believes that Williams and Simpson were duped into believing the concept of "independent PNP".

"I am sure when those people wake up and truly realise that they are no longer members of the PNP, they are going to be so mad," said Richards, who retained her own seat for the municipal council's Bensonton division.

"It is she [Hanna, who] caused all of it."

It is expected that South East St Ann could be a topic of discussion at the NEC meeting, where another Hanna matter could also be broached: her public statement that Simpson Miller's remarks in the constituency to heckling PNP supporters, which many people thought were threatening, cost the party votes in the municipal elections.

Richards hopes that she will find support there for her anti-Hanna posture but had already made it clear that whatever their decision, she was in no mood for compromise.

The tradition is for MPs and divisional representatives in the constituencies to work closely. But Richards insists that that will not happen between herself and Hanna, who she claims has provided her division with little development support.

"I am not having a relationship with her," she said. " Everybody knows we have a problem ... but I will wait until NEC to see what they do."

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com