Sat | Jan 19, 2019

It happened this week in 1976

Published:Wednesday | December 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Enid Bennett
Hugh Small
Ruddy Lawson
Earnest Peart
Robert Saunds
Dr. Henry Kissinger
Dr Mavis Gilmour
Ferdinand Neita
Carl Rattray
Abe Dabdoub
Pearnel Charles
Michael Manley
Edward Seaga
Rudolph Green
Basil Robinson
Michael Manley (centre) discussing problems relating to political violence with the Commissioner of Police Basil Robinson (left) and the Cheif of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force Brigadier Rudolph Green.

Sunday, December 12

The competent authorities, Basil Robinson and Brigadier Rudolph Green, amended the order previously sent out about press coverage of the election campaign. The order now requires copies of all advertisements by or on behalf of candidates - or by the People's National Party (PNP) or the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) - to be submitted no less than six hours before publication.

Similarly, copies of all statements from whatever source, including newscasts relating thereto, which are made by or on behalf of, or in support of, or against any candidate or candidates or the PNP and JLP, are to be submitted if they are being published.

The authority issued a statement that there is no intention of censorship; however, if a matter aroused the fear of the competent authorities, that its publication would endanger the peace, it is expected that discussion would take place between the competent authorities and the proposed publisher.

Opposition Leader Edward Seaga reiterated his commitment to regional cooperation in the Caribbean, and said his JLP would continue initiatives in this direction if elected to power.

At a press conference for foreign journalists, the former finance minister spoke of his concept of a wider Caribbean Community, possibly involving Mexico and Venezuela, but at the same time, he indicated that he would roll back the level of Cuban involvement in Jamaican life.

Expressing confidence he will end Prime Minister Michael Manley's five-year rule, Seaga also touched on the economy, which he described as bankrupt; the violence, which he termed the worse ever; and the new regulation for news media in Jamaica to submit election material to the competent authorities for vetoing before publication. That development, Seaga said, was very unfortunate, adding that it spelled out more and more the sinister intentions of the People's National Party (PNP) administration through the existing state of emergency regulations.

Monday, December 13

All public meetings and marches were banned throughout Jamaica under the Public Order Act by Minister of National Security Keble Munn.

A statement by the competent authorities under the Emergency Regulations, Basil Robinson and Brigadier Rudolph Green, said the ban follows escalating political violence.

The authorities reminded the public that all processions, motorcades as well as political walks in which more than five persons accompany candidates on house-to-house canvassing have already been banned.

The minister's decision followed an escalation of political violence islandwide resulting in the shooting of Ferdinand Neita, PNP candidate for East Central St Catherine, and an attack on Colin Williamson, JLP candidate for West St Andrew.

According to police reports, Neita was shot at the Greendale Plaza when he was erecting a platform for a campaign meeting.

The People's National Party Government has put 100 years of exploitation and domination under the "heavy manners" of social justice, said Prime Minister Michael Manley in his final pre-election broadcast to the nation.

The Government made a serious start on the road of fundamental change, he said.

The main issue of the coming election was whether to turn back to the system that had failed the country or to press on with the great new challenge of building democratic socialism. The greatest task ahead would be to build a new national unity around the democratic decision of the people.

Minister of Justice Carl Rattray gave a warning that "The Gleaner would do well to remember that the defiance of constituted authority carries consequences which are real and not imaginary".

Rattray referred to an editorial in The Gleaner where it was stated that: "While we fully support and urge all citizens to give their cooperation to the security forces in their efforts to contain crime and return peace to our society, it is impossible for us to accept an instruction which could have the effect of allowing external forces to determine what we will publish."

"There has been a predictable howl in certain areas of the media," Rattray continued, "about censorship and an attack on freedom of expression. Of course, any well-thinking person knows that to ask for information is not to apply censorship. The media knows this too well. If this government desired to apply censorship, it would have included it as a part of the Emergency Regulations."

Pearnel Charles, a deputy leader of the JLP, was brought before the Half-Way Tree Resident Magistrate's Court to face a charge of inciting persons to murder. The case was postponed by Resident Magistrate B.L. Myrie, to come up again on January 6.

Charles, who was escorted from the Detention Centre, Up Park Camp, to the courthouse, was represented by Abe Dabdoub, attorney-at-law.

The postponement came after the prosecution indicated that it was not ready to proceed with the trial.

The charge against Charles arose from allegations made in a pamphlet published by the South West St Andrew Citizens' Association. The pamphlet became a recent court issue in which Charles was complainant, but the five defendants, who are members of the association and who had been charged with criminal libel, were dismissed without being called to state their case.

Tuesday, December 14

In a final bid for a peaceful election, Prime Minister Michael Manley, president of the PNP, and Edward Seaga, leader of the JLP, signed a peace pledge drawn up by the Jamaica Council of Churches.

The signing of the pledge launched a Christmas crusade for reconciliation and peace, designed to foster goodwill, bring an end to violence, and develop a spirit of national unity.

Prime Minister Manley signed the pledge at Jamaica House and Seaga signed during a meeting with Commissioner of Police Basil Robinson to talk about security matters and ways to avert political violence.

The pledge read: "Before God and all mankind, we pledge to work sincerely, actively and creatively to bring reconciliation and peace to Jamaica, to foster goodwill among all the people of Jamaica, and to develop a spirit of national unity in our country, whichever party is chosen by the electorate. We support the Jamaica Christmas Crusade which starts on Tuesday, December 14, 1976 and continues through Christmas and the New Year. We appeal to all our fellow Jamaicans to give their full support and active cooperation in every possible way to this Christmas Crusade for Peace, because a nation divided against itself cannot stand."

Jamaica voted in the eighth general election under adult suffrage after a final day of campaigning. Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m.

A total of 870,892 voters have been registered and have the right to poll their votes at some 5,500 polling stations in 60 constituencies across the island.

For the first time, the election will be a straight contest between the ruling PNP and the opposition JLP, each fielding 60 candidates for the House of Representatives. There were no independent or third-party candidates.

Prime Minister Michael Manley leads the PNP's bid for retention of power for the second time after his party's 1972 victory.

Opposition Leader Edward Seaga leads the JLP into a national-election race for the first time, after having won the party leadership in 1974, when Hugh Shearer stepped down.

This will be the third general election since 1962, when the JLP won the right to take the nation into Independence.

Wednesday, December 15

The PNP won the 1976 general election, scoring a landslide victory over the JLP, to return to power as the Government of Jamaica.

Of the 60 seats in the expanded House of Representatives, the PNP, led by Prime Minister Michael Manley, won 41 seats outright, and was leading in five others in the preliminary count.

The JLP, under its leader Edward Seaga, fighting his first general election, took six seats and was leading in seven others; one seat had not reported.

Manley was among the early winners coming home in his new constituency, East Central Kingston, with a long lead over his young rival, Karl Chung.

Seaga, who made election history by not voting, was an easy winner in his constituency, Western Kingston, from newcomer Ivan Wilkins.

Across the island, it was a clean sweep by the ruling PNP. All but one of its ministers - Rose Leon - retained their seats for the PNP, which came to office as Government in 1972.

Sharp at the stroke of eight, exactly an hour after the polls opened for the general election, PNP President Michael Manley, turned up at the polling station at Washington Drive in North Central St Andrew to poll his vote. He was accompanied by his wife, Beverley, and his mother, Edna Manley.

Shortly after he alighted from the car, Manley and members of his family were welcomed by the PNP candidate for the area, Tony Phillips. They were also greeted by Mrs Florizel Glasspole, the governor general's wife, who voted at the same polling station.

Manley, his wife and mother joined the queue of electors waiting for their chance to vote.

"I think the PNP scored a very clear and decisive victory, and as leader of the Opposition I offer them my congratulations."

So said Edward Seaga in a press conference shortly after it became clear the PNP had won the election.

Seaga, accompanied by his wife, Mitzy, arrived at the JLP action centre, 20 Belmont Road, to face a host of sympathisers.

The people, he said, had made a clear choice and it was incumbent on the party to honour this decision.

Three veterans of Jamaican politics were wiped from the national scene, one on the side of the victorious People's National Party and two on the side of the defeated Jamaica Labour Party. The only minister of the former government to lose a seat, Rose Leon, was defeated by Dr Mavis Gilmour in the fight for the West Rural St Andrew; and in the Eastern St Thomas, Lynden Newland, long-time JLP frontbencher and former minister, lost his seat to Vie Thompson. The other veteran to go was Edwin Allen, also of the JLP, who was beaten in the North Western Clarendon by Percival Minott.

Thursday, December 16

As preliminary counts continued in Wednesday's general election, the PNP picked up four more seats and the JLP one to make the party standing 45 to seven. Figures made available by the chief electoral officer and information collected showed that the preliminary count has been completed in 52 of the 60 constituencies. The four additional seats won by the PNP are Ernest Peart - North West Manchester, Ruddy Lawson - South West St Catherine, Hugh Small - South West Clarendon, and Robert Saunds - Northern Clarendon. The JLP's other winning candidate is Enid Bennett - West Central St Catherine.

United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said he thinks the US could work cooperatively with Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, whose PNP won a landslide election victory. Kissinger was responding to a question at a press conference at the United Nations on whether he shared the fear that the Caribbean was becoming a 'Red Sea' in view of growing numbers of Leftist governments in the area.

"I don't know any colleague of mine who have that view," Kissinger replied. "We respect the independent foreign policy of countries in the Caribbean. We have our well-known concerns with respect to the role that Cuba has played in various parts of the world," he added.

"But we think we can work cooperatively with Manley."

Congratulatory messages poured in for Prime Minister Michael Manley following the landslide victory of the PNP in the general election.

Messages were received from Canada, Sweden, Liberia, Guyana, St Kitts, Dominica, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat Shridath Ramphal, the New Democratic Party of Canada, Guyana's Leader of the Opposition Dr Cheddi Jagan, President Nyerere of Tanzania, President Kaunda of Zambia, Prime Minister Dom Mintoff of Malta, and Premier George Price of Belize.

Friday, December 16

Prime Minister Michael Manley undertook to study proposals from Opposition Leader Edward Seaga aimed at defusing public tensions and reducing the wide areas of differences between the two major political parties.

Among the proposals was a plea for review of all state of emergency detainees to determine which marginal cases could be released for Christmas.

Seaga also said that if the latter proposal was acceptable, he would make a personal and public plea to the persons released to justify the decision taken by exemplary good conduct on their part.

In a post-election meeting at Jamaica House held at the invitation of the prime minister, both leaders spoke privately.

Later, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a brief statement on the talks, which were said to have centred on matters to do with Jamaica's political future.

Seaga also issued a statement afterwards summarising the proposals he had subsequently submitted in a letter to the prime minister. The proposals recommended establishment of a police commission and electoral commission, and improvement of machinery to control public financing.

The preliminary count in the general election completed in all constituencies gave the PNP 48 seats to 12 for the JLP. The PNP picked up three and the JLP five of the eight remaining seats. Any likelihood of changes in the final standings rests with the final counts.

Major interests were focused on Northern Clarendon, which was won in the preliminary count by Robert Saunds of the PNP by a narrow margin of 15 votes over the JLP's J.A.G. Smith.

Saturday, December 17

The JLP's J.A.G. Smith was declared winner of the Northern Clarendon seat on the final count in Wednesday's general election over the PNP's Robert Saunds. On election night, Smith was leading, but on the preliminary count, Saunds appeared to have won. However, Smith won in the final count with 5,296 votes to Saunds' 5,283 votes.

Of the total votes polled, 64 were rejected.

A report also came in from Eastern St Andrew, where Keble Munn maintained his lead over Don Wilson of the JLP.