South East St Mary hot!
Any doubt that the South East St Mary by-election, one of three set for Monday, October 30, is just a by-election was dispelled yesterday when both major political parties, the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Opposition People's National Party (PNP), flexed their muscles in a show of strength as supporters descended on the town of Annotto Bay.
Nomination time for the JLP's Norman Dunn was originally set for 10 a.m. and the PNP's Dr Shane Alexis at midday, to minimise the risk of rival supporters clashing. However, Dunn was nominated just before 11 o'clock and so Alexis' time was rescheduled to 1 o'clock.
However, things did not go according to script, and the heavy presence of Labourites by the time Comrades arrived resulted in gridlock. With the 2:00 nomination deadline looming large, the PNP delegation got out of their vehicles and proceeded on foot. The process was completed shortly after 1:30, but left General Secretary Julian Robinson livid that the security forces had been derelict in their duty.
Not a good sign
"What took place is not satisfactory at all. The reality is that the JLP had a nomination period, they nominated. The police should have escorted them out of the town, to allow the PNP to come in. However, no force would turn us back or prevent us from being nominated, but it's just not a good sign in terms of management of an issue like this," he told The Gleaner.
"Although we are confident, we are not taking anything for granted. So we have to do what we have to do to get the ballots into the 30th and a part of that is to have all hands on deck to ensure the victory," Labourite mayor of Port Maria, Richard Creary, explained, when quizzed about the many party stalwarts in attendance.
"If the prime minister and all the ministers stayed away, people would probably form a view that, bwoy, maybe it not looking so good for us. So they are here to interact with them and they will be here from now until the 30th. Is not just a one-day thing, because we pulling out all the stops for this one. Although we are very confident, we are not complacent," he insisted.
It would seem both parties are reading from a similar script, with Robinson telling The Gleaner, "We gonna continue doing our groundwork. Our candidate is in the field every day meeting, with electors, and we are confident that the campaign is coming together very nicely and we're confident that we'll be victorious."