Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Bunting declares his hand

Published:Monday | December 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Peter Bunting in discussion with a People's National Party supporter during the party's the National Executive Council meeting held yesterday at Cedar Grove Academy in Portmore, St Catherine, yesterday.

Former People's National Party (PNP) General Secretary Peter Bunting became the first person to signal that he would join the race to replace outgoing party President Portia Simpson Miller.

While acknowledging that he was unclear of the timeline for Simpson Miller's departure, Bunting put his cards on the table.

"My intention is that when the campaign starts, I will be a part of it," he told The Gleaner yesterday.

His announcement came moments after an emotional Simpson Miller told the party's National Executive Council that she would not be seeking another term as president.

Former Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, who is also expected to challenge for the leadership of the PNP, released a statement last night lauding Simpson Miller for her service to the people of Jamaica, but made no mention of whether he was interested in replacing her.

"I want to place on record my appreciation to our Comrade leader, not only for her stewardship of the party over the past 10 years, but also for her undying commitment to Jamaica, and the people of Jamaica as demonstrated over the past 40 years since she was elected to the Parliament and over 42 years in representational politics," Phillips said.

TIMELINE TO BE SET

PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said the officers of the party would now meet to set a timeline for the holding of a special delegates conference to name Simpson Miller's successor.

"We will be doing that shortly, and then it will be communicated to the party and the public," Robinson told reporters yesterday.

The newly installed general secretary said it was highly unlikely this would be done before year end.

"Most things will shut down in another week or two, so obviously we are talking about in 2017," he explained.

Bunting, who is also a former minister of national security, flirted with the idea of challenging Simpson Miller at the party's annual conference in September, but later backed away.

But this time around, he left no doubt that he would seek the top job in the PNP and gave the assurance that his challenge would not hurt the party.

"I will play my part in ensuring that the transition does not damage her legacy or hurt the People's National Party," he said.

Bunting was coy about his plans.

"You can wait for further and better particulars going forward," he said.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com