Sun | Nov 17, 2019

PNP: We’ll be ready for by-election

Published:Wednesday | February 6, 2019 | 7:07 AM
Andrea Moore
Donald Rhodd

While the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has said it is not yet focusing on the looming by-election to select a member of parliament (MP) for Eastern Portland as it mourns the late Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, party supporters believe movements on the ground suggest otherwise.

Some supporters are already lining up behind one prospective candidate to become the party’s standard-bearer, Andrea Moore, who they believe was unfairly snubbed by the PNP hierarchy after defeating Bloomfield in an internal poll in 2015.

Despite Moore’s triumph, the decision by delegates was overturned by the top brass of the PNP and Bloomfield was allowed to contest the 2016 general election. He retained the seat, beating the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Derron Wood by more than 2,000 votes.

On Monday, former Eastern Portland MP Dr Donald Rhodd was seen arriving at the constituency office for a closed-door, top-level meeting with a number of PNP heavyweights, including Dr Morais Guy, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Mikael Phillips, Dr Paul Robertson, and Julian Robinson.

Councillors shut out

Several party supporters on the outside found it curious that Rhodd walked into the meeting, while two sitting councillors, Dexter Rowland and former Port Antonio Mayor Wayne McKenzie, were reportedly not accommodated.

Despite this, the party is insisting that while it understands the need for political representation for the people of East Portland, its immediate concern is to provide comfort for Bloomfield’s grieving family members and constituents.

“At this stage, we are not focusing on the candidate-selection process. We believe it is more important to provide support first to his family and to his constituents,” General Secretary Julian Robinson said at a press conference yesterday at the PNP’s Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters.

Robinson noted that the late MP, who had been practising medicine in Portland for 30 years, attended to people from all across the spectrum, many of whom are now grieving.

“... We certainly do not have control over when a by-election will be called, so as a responsible organisation, we are going to prepare ourselves, but right now, our focus is to deal with his family,” the PNP general secretary said.

The constituency of East Portland has been a good hunting ground for the PNP, which has held on to the seat since 1989.

Last September, the JLP announced Ann-Marie Vaz as the person leading its charge in the constituency.

Vaz, whose husband Daryl holds the Western Portland seat for the JLP, has reportedly been making inroads in the constituency.

Bloomfield, who was into his second term as MP for the constituency on a PNP ticket, was found murdered inside his house last Saturday.