Fri | Jan 18, 2019

St Elizabeth North East PNP run-off leaves some Comrades fuming

Published:Monday | May 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
People's National Party supporters celebrate with Basil Waite yesterday at the St Elizabeth Technical High School where he scored a resounding victory over former mayor of Black River Everton Fisher in a race to replace the incumbent for St Elizabeth North East, Evon Redman.
Everton Fisher was yesterday flanked by jubilant supporters at the St Elizabeth Technical High School in the parish where he lost the race in a run off with former senator Basil Waite to be the PNP standard-bearer for St Elizabeth North East, when Evon Redman departs at the end of his current term.
People's National Party supporters in a jubilant mood yesterday at the St Elizabeth Technical High School in the parish where there was a run-off between Basil Waite and former mayor of Black River Everton Fisher.

A tension-filled day at St Elizabeth Technical High School where Basil Waite and Everton Fisher squared off to be the People's National Party (PNP) standard-bearer for the St Elizabeth North East constituency ended with huge cracks in the party's organisation.

There were early signs of deep division among PNP supporters, with the incumbent Evon Redman expressing concern that yesterday's election would possibly reverse the progress made to unite the Comrades.

Speaking with The Gleaner after the announcement yesterday, Waite said he was pleased with the results of the election, expressing gratitude to his support team that helped him seal the victory.

He moved quickly to address the flare-up that erupted throughout the day, declaring he was ready to bring the factions together.

"The first order of business is to unite the constituency and deal with projects and programmes and continue the work done by previous members of parliament.

"I don't know that the tensions are greater than any other selection that you have anywhere else. There is great respect between myself and Comrade Fisher and a mutual understanding that we have to come together in the interest of the People's National Party," the incoming standard-bearer said.

However, Fisher told The Gleaner that he was not in support of the run-off, arguing it could have been delayed for another year.

"North East St Elizabeth has had its fair share of challenges. It's a traditional PNP constituency, but it has suffered for the past 12 years," he admitted.

"My approach up to a month ago was to encourage the incumbent MP Comrade Redman to do a second term. That didn't work out.

"I think the selection process was premature in a constituency like North East St Elizabeth. I understand the party's thinking that they want to put in a candidate, but I would suggest to them that you put candidates where there is a crisis. But in a seat where Comrade Redman is trying to unite after the disruption, I would have preferred the selection be delayed for a year," Fisher reasoned.

The former PNP mayor said he would be extending the olive branch to Waite even as he considered his future in politics.