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Stabroek News

Smith stands firm - PNP lambastes Security Minister who threatens to expose councillor
published: Saturday | November 17, 2007

Derrick Smith, Minister of National Security.

Minister of National Security Derrick Smith is sticking to his statement made in Tivoli Gardens Wednesday night, when he accused members of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) of "robbing the country'" when that party formed the government.

"I am not withdrawing from the statement. I am standing by the statement," Mr. Smith told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre yesterday.

Mr. Smith's remarks, which were made at a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) rally to announce the date for the local government election, have elicited swift condemnation from the PNP, which has chided him for what it describes as his "intemperate outburst".

Mr. Smith had indicated that at the end of ongoing investigations against former PNP officials, he would have a team of police waiting "fi lock dem up".

In expanding on his statement, the minister said current investigations would confirm his belief of corruption in the previous government.

Said he: "An investigation is going on to confirm what I believe. The conclusion of the investigations confirming what I have been hearing and what I believe and action will be taken," he said.

"I don't know why it is so difficult for you to understand. I stand by what I said," Smith added.

When asked if he could support his statement that members of the previous PNP administration had stolen public funds, the minister challenged the reporter to "prove otherwise".

Lack of protocol

In a release yesterday, the Opposition said the behaviour of the minister was not in keeping with protocol, "and went against the precedence established by all previous ministers of that portfolio, both from the JLP and the PNP".

The Opposition PNP warned against politicising the Ministry of National Security which, it said, exists to direct policy relating to law and order.

"As such, the Opposition says the National Security Minister should never have made those utterances but, especially, not from a political platform."

But Mr. Smith also attacked another PNP member while addressing party supporters at a JLP rally at Sherlock Crescent, Duhaney Park in St. Andrew on Thursday night.

The minister said he was informed by the police that a sitting councillor was on the wrong side of the law. According to Mr. Smith the councillor "ought not to represent the party (PNP) in the next Local Government election".

Clean candidates

He sought to assure electors that all JLP members running for seats in the KSAC were vetted by the party and were found to be "clean candidates".

"I challenge the PNP to say that, because they know that, based on where I sit, I know that the police want them to withdraw one of their sitting councillors."

Mr. Smith warned that if the councillor does not withdraw his candidacy in the upcoming elections, he would go public with additional information.

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