Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Residents blame outsiders for violence in SE St Mary

Published:Wednesday | October 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown

Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown has said that despite lingering concerns from residents in St Mary South East regarding the large influx of persons from outside the constituency, who they blame for the flare-ups, she expects the remaining days of campaigning before the October 30 by-election to be peaceful.

Yesterday, she toured sections of the constituency with Assistant Commissioner of Police Norman Heywood and members of the Peace Management Initiative to engage residents and political representatives from both the People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), amid reports of violent incidents.

"The citizens who we spoke with in two areas representing the JLP and PNP welcomed the visit. They had some things on their minds they were able to share with us, and we were able to share their views with the other group as well," she said.

Parchment Brown said that some residents in the hotly contested constituency told her that they were concerned about incidents in the parish that had attracted media coverage, most of which were negative.

"They are concerned that some of the negative had to do with people who are from outside the constituency. There is concern that whoever is coming in needs to behave properly and don't create any further antagonism in the area," she said.

According to Parchment Brown, based on her observation and interactions with the people of St Mary South East, there was no need for any action on her part as it relates to the question of campaigning. However, she urged the candidates in the October 30 by-election to do what they promised in terms of cleaning up the areas that were defaced with political material.

She told The Gleaner that Heywood had assured her that the necessary human resources and equipment would be provided for the by-election.

The political referee encouraged voters in the constituency to obey the laws and rules governing elections and "come out and vote on election day".

In what is deemed as one of the toughest by-elections in the country's political history, the governing JLP is seeking to increase the number of seats they now hold in the Lower House.

The by-election for St Mary South East became necessary after the death of the PNP's Dr Winston Green, who was the member of parliament.

The PNP's Dr Shane Alexis will be doing battle with the JLP's Dr Norman Dunn.

Two other seats will also be contested on October 30 - that of St Andrew South West and St Andrew South. The seats became vacant following the resignations of former opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller and Dr Omar Davies, respectively.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com