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Burke: Bunting wasn't asked to not challenge Portia for PNP president

Published:Monday | July 18, 2016 | 7:17 PM
People’s National Party General Secretary Paul Burke says while many will be happy with Bunting's decision, the party’s officers did not make any such request or took no such decision.

People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Paul Burke, is dismissing claims that officers of the party had asked Central Manchester MP Peter Bunting not to offer himself as a candidate for the post of party president.

Speaking at the Central Manchester annual conference last night, Bunting indicated that he would not be contesting the post.

He told Comrades at the Manchester High School that timing was critical and he was standing down for two main reasons.

The first was that officers of the party had asked possible challengers not to seek the top job in September because of impending local government elections and he has decided to yield to the call and put the party first.

IN PHOTO: Peter Bunting (left) and Portia Simpson Miller engage in a conversation.

Bunting said his other reason for not seeking election at this time is that he believes it is best if party president Portia Simpson Miller sets her own timetable for departure.

However, in a statement this morning, Burke said while many will be happy with Bunting's decision, the party’s officers did not make any such request or took no such decision.

He acknowledges, however, that PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill indicated at the National Officers Meeting of Monday, July 4 raised the matter of presidential election.

According to Burke, Pickergill took it upon himself to check and verify with could-be aspirants of their interest or intent in offering themselves as candidates.

The PNP General Secretary further says Pickersgill took it up on himself to have expressed his personal position or preference on the matter but it was not a position of officers of the party to ask Bunting to stand down.

Nominations for the top posts in the PNP are open until Wednesday and there had been speculations that Simpson Miller could face a challenge.