Opposition urged to rethink stance on state of emergence
Government representatives in St James are getting jittery that the parliamentary Opposition might carry out its threat not to support the extension of the state of emergency in the parish.
The state of emergency is slated to come to an end on Wednesday and the Government needs the backing of the Opposition in Parliament to approve any extension.
But the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has made it clear that it is not prepared to play ball unless the Government present an overwhelming reason for a continuation.
"I think that the Government should hear, and hear clearly, that we are not prepared to extend beyond the current request, unless there are some overwhelming reasons presented for the consideration of the public," Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips told a media conference last week.
Speaking to reporters last Friday at the opening of a new 'Parent Place' at the Emmanuel Chapel in Mt Salem, St James, attorney general and Member of Parliament for St James West Central Marlene Malahoo Forte argued that it would be unfortunate if the Opposition was to take that position at a time when both sides of the parliamentary aisle need to be united in sending a clear message to the criminal elements.
"The state of public emergency is not the only tool that the Government is using but I shudder to think that the parliamentary Opposition would want to send a message to the criminal elements that it is not united with the Government in taking a stand against this horror and terror this nation has been experiencing, and that St James has been experiencing," said Malahoo Forte.
"From all indication, the results are positive but we still have a long way to go. The security forces have advised that it is critical that the work continues and so the Government is resolute in its stance," added Malahoo Forte.
Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis echoed similar sentiments as he argued that the state of public emergency has brought crime under control in the parish and a continuation would mean better days for residents.
"I heard what the parliamentary Opposition has said, but I can tell you that my 17 councillors are in support for continuation of this exercise," said Davis.
"When I speak to residents across the political divide, they are in support. They are feeling what is happening down here and we have to give credit to our security forces because there isn't any complaint, or if there are, then there are few if any brutality. We are getting positive results and we think that there is a lot more work to be done," added Davis.
The state of emergency was imposed in St James on January 18 with Prime Minister Andrew Holness making the announcement that it would be in place for an initial two weeks.
Parliament, with the Opposition support, extended it until May 2.