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Sweeping constitutional amendments ratified by the JLP

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

WHEN VETERAN politician Olivia 'Babsy' Grange takes on James Robertson, the man who defeated her 11 years ago for the position of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) deputy leader for Area Council Two, the entire bulk of delegates will be empowered to cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice.

The 71-year-old party on Sunday ratified sweeping amendments to its Constitution that will allow delegates from all four area councils, and not only the one in which there is a challenge, to participate in elections of the four deputy leaders as is done in the People's National Party (PNP).

This means that deputy leaders will be elected nationally at the All-Island General Council (annual conference).

The deputy leadership election for Area Council Two between Robertson, the incumbent, and Grange was scheduled to take at the JLP annual conference which culminated on Sunday, but was postponed.

Party functionaries say this is to focus on the upcoming local government elections due in March 2015.

Everald Warmington, the chairman of the JLP's Constitution Committee, the most powerful organ of the JLP, on Sunday, put forward a slew of changes that were ratified at the party's annual conference.

Warmington said in the recent overhaul, the rules of the JLP have been upgraded to a constitution with a range of provisions that include beliefs; aims and objectives; and clauses and schedules.

Given the controversy that erupted in last year's preparation of a voters' list to guide the leadership election between JLP Leader Andrew Holness and challenger Audley Shaw, the new JLP constitution stipulates that delegates will be chosen by a simple method of calculation and redistribution.

Included in the motion moved by Warmington was a move to reduce the numbers of members of the JLP Standing Committee.

He said the committee that customarily meets weekly on Monday will include officers of the party; chairmen of national committees; 10 members elected by the central executive; and area council chairmen.

The constitution has been amended to empower the party's Central Executive to appoint no less that.

Persons eligible to be appointed by the Central Executive to be trustees are former members of standing committees; Central Executive and honorary members.

They have also stipulated that persons appointed as trustees are not qualified to engage in active political activity at any level.

Trustees act as advisers to the officer or party organisation and to manage the existing trust.