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PNP still says no to debates unless Holness responds to all issues

Published:Tuesday | February 16, 2016 | 1:12 PM
Burke: It is our view that any person who offers himself or herself for leadership must address legitimate questions about his or her integrity before an election and certainly before being accorded the privilege of participating in a national debate.

The People's National Party (PNP) has written to the Jamaica Debates Commission maintaining that it will not participate in the proposed political debates until the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Leader Andrew Holness responds to all the integrity and other concerns it has raised.

The major concern related to the source of funding for Holness' Beverley Hills mansion.

Yesterday, Holness issued a comprehensive statement detailing the entire acquisition process and the related costs.

READ: Holness responds to house controversy

However, it appears that the PNP is not satisfied, saying it will not participate "unless and until" Holness responds to all the integrity and other issues it has raised in the media:

The PNP's six concerns:

1. Holness' comment that the Sam Sharpe Square shooting at a JLP rally was "an act of terror"

2. Holness' nomination day comment allegedly defaming the Prime Minister

3. Holness' meeting with Jamaican convicted in Qatar.

4. The financing of the construction of Holness' house in Beverly Hills, St Andrew

5. The Senate letters saga

6. Robert Montague's assertion of oil imports link with ISIS

The PNP's latest response comes days after the Debates Commission asked that it reconsider its decision to stay away from the debates.

"It is our view that any person who offers himself or herself for leadership must address legitimate questions about his or her integrity before an election and certainly before being accorded the privilege of participating in a national debate organised by you," PNP General Secretary Paul Burke said in a letter to the Debates Commission.

He also said that the PNP's campaign programme includes events which will accomplish the national objective to communicate the policies and programmes of the political party.

The Commission has described as a “regrettable and unfortunate” the PNP's decision to stay away from the debate. 

It says notwithstanding all the hiccups in the negotiating process, issues raised by the PNP regarding the format for the Leaders’ Debate were resolved, and so it was “very disappointing” that issues unrelated to the debate format had subsequently been introduced.