Sat | Jun 23, 2018

Fix election date, set term limits

Published:Wednesday | February 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Prime Minister Portia L. Simpson Miller knows more than anyone else in the People's National Party (PNP) the negative effects of a long election campaign.

The year 1980 was a prime example. Under then Prime Minister Michael Manley, the election campaign was far too long. Prime Minister Portia L. Simpson Miller buried many dead of all the candidates in that election. Men dressed in military fatigue and blue denim would enter various parts of the constituency and open gunfire, killing young men.

I know what I am speaking about, as a private informal transport contractor, working for a funeral home to provide hearse service. We would be called to pick up a body. However, we would return to base with four, as the police would escort us to other sections of the constituency to pick up other bodies.

I vividly recall 1980 when, at the completion of a funeral for deceased supporters of the People National Party's (PNP) at St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church off Molynes Road, the cortege made its way to the No. 5 cemetery in Spanish Town (Tawes Pen), a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) stronghold. When the cortege arrived at the cemetery, a mob was there waiting and they shouted, "Them naw bury yah!" and they proceeded to demolish the vaults as the police stood by helpless.

The bodies had to be taken back to Kingston where they were later interred in the May Pen Cemetery.

I agree with the short election notice and the time between nomination day and the date on which an election must be held. This clause was not in existence in the 1980s.

I trust that at the next election after 2016, which will be constitutionally due in 2021, the Constitution would have been already amended to set 1) a fixed election date; 2) term limits; and 3) separation of powers. Consideration should also be given to reducing the life of the Parliament from five years to four.


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