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Party members leaning towards Holness - JLP source

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2011 | 12:00 AM

It is appearing more likely that Andrew Holness could be elected leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) unopposed.

JLP sources yesterday told The Gleaner that with a massive coalition lined up behind Holness, efforts are being made to get the other aspirants to shelve their plans to enter the race.

"It look like anybody oppose Andrew a go lose, suh right now we're trying to get the other people to not contest and avoid any bad blood," a senior JLP insider told The Gleaner.

"I believe a deal was struck on Monday evening, but the party not yet ready to go public with it," added the insider, who asked that his name be withheld.

According to the JLP insider, news of the no contest could be official before the end of this week.

Last night, Daryl Vaz, minister with responsibility for information, said a press conference had been called for this morning, at which there would be a major announcement about the aspirants.

"This is a very sensitive time and everybody should wait for today's announcement. But what I can assure you is that there will be no infighting or disruption in the JLP," said Vaz, who has been backing Finance Minister Audley Shaw for party leadership.

The JLP has set October 20 as the deadline for nominations. At least five persons have so far indicated that they are considering throwing their hat into the ring to replace Bruce Golding as party leader and, by extension, prime minister.

In addition to Holness, Dr Christopher Tufton, Dr Ken Baugh, Mike Henry and Audley Shaw have declared that they could offer themselves to lead the party.

No final word

So far, there is no final word from any of the five, and party sources warned that any announcement before the nomination deadline could be premature, as talks are taking place.

But with several parliamentarians and other senior members of the party indicating their support for Holness, it appears that the race could be over before it even begins.

In the meantime, Holness yesterday received a stamp of approval from university lecturer and anti-corruption crusader, Professor Trevor Munroe.

Responding to questions at a Gleaner Editors' Forum, Munroe argued that Holness is a thinker who could be good for Jamaica at this time.

According to Munroe: "He (Holness) is somebody who thinks things out. He is not somebody who shoots from the hip ... . I think he is somebody who is willing and able to work hard (and) I believe he is someone who will listen to the various voices but ultimately he will be able to take a position independent of special interests."

Munroe made it clear that while he was not opposed to any of the other potential contenders, he was impressed with the seeming ability of Holness to stand up to special-interest groups.

"I am not saying that Holness alone has that capability ... so let me not come across as a campaign manager or a committed supporter of Holness," said Munroe.

Another participant at the forum, human-rights advocate Dr Carolyn Gomes, reserved judgement, as she argued that there is a shortage of information on the aspirants.

"It can't be a popularity contest or a beauty contest. It is a contest about leadership and leadership qualities," said Gomes, the executive director of Jamaicans for Justice.

"What are the things you are bringing to the table? What are your plans for Jamaica? Where do you think we need to be going and what would be your priorities?" Gomes said.