Thu | Nov 26, 2020

PNP still in limbo, eyes Azan’s return to House

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2020 | 12:14 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Azan
Azan

The People’s National Party (PNP) has still not settled on a way forward in the short term as the highly anticipated Monday night executive meeting to review the offer of resignation from party President Dr Peter Phillips did not take place.

Phillips indicated his desire to step down after leading the party to a crushing defeat in the general elections last week but said he would hang on to the leadership until a way forward was decided, including the selection of a new president.

While most of the members of the office corps of the PNP had been present for an early meeting on Monday, the executive meeting was scrapped as the earlier meeting had run into the afternoon, finishing at 2 p.m.

The Gleaner understands that a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting has tentatively been set for September 27 at a location in St Andrew.

Usually by now, a new NEC would have been elected, but with the elections and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many internal elections in the party have been delayed.

However, former PNP General Secretary Paul Burke told The Gleaner yesterday that the current NEC members still have legitimacy.

“Until a new NEC is elected, the existing body remains in place and there has been precedence – more than one – in the People’s National Party. The last time I remembered this happening is in 2004 [after] Hurricane Ivan,” he said.

The NEC is expected to grill the campaign team and the officer corps of the party on the massive election defeat.

On the final count, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won 48 seats while the PNP bagged 15 in the 63-seat House of Representatives.

However, yesterday, PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson indicated that the party would be seeking a magisterial recount in Clarendon North West, where its candidate, Richard Azan, failed to win a third consecutive term, going down by 84 votes.

The papers are expected to be filed today.

The JLP’s Phillip Henriques was declared the winner in the final count with 5,630 votes.

HIGHLY IRREGULAR

However, 1,107– or 10 per cent – of the total ballots cast were rejected, a situation Electoral Office of Jamaica boss Glasspole Brown admitted was highly irregular.

Brown said a proper analysis could not be done unless there was a magisterial recount.

“I did not see the ballots. The decision was the returning officer’s. It’s his wisdom based on the training and the guidance we have given him,” said Brown, who added that the number of rejected ballots does “raise a red flag”.

Magisterial recounts could also be on the cards for four other constituencies as the JLP challenges the final results in Westmoreland Eastern, where the PNP’s Luther Buchanan was declared the winner over Daniel Lawrence after the returning officer broke a final-count tie; St Ann South Eastern, where Lisa Hanna defeated the JLP’s Delroy Granston by 32 votes; and in St Catherine North Western, where the PNP’s Hugh Graham got 32 votes more than Newton Amos. In Manchester Central, independent candidate Rohan Chung, who saw his initial tally slashed from 67 to 49 votes, also indicated that he would be seeking a recount.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com