Deputy mayor on gun charges takes leave of absence
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Officials of the People's National Party (PNP) yesterday emerged from the first day of their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting still waffling on the fate of two St James councillors arrested in connection with the multimillion-dollar lottery scam.
With civil society and the political opposition demanding that the two - deputy mayor of Montego Bay, Michael Troupe, and councillor for the Salt Spring division, Sylvan Reid - resign or be dismissed, the PNP appeared less than decisive.
Troupe, who has been charged with illegal position of firearm, saved the leadership of the PNP some anguish as he indicated that he has taken a leave of absence from all positions held in party.
PNP Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson made the announcement as he and other members of the party addressed journalists at the end of day one of the two-day NEC meeting at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.
"In relation to the matter involving two parish councillors from St James, the party has been in touch with lawyers for both persons," said Robinson.
"The lawyers for Councillor Troupe have indicated that he is willing to step back and take a leave of absence from all the party positions that he holds, which would include the chairmanship of his parish council division, the vice-chairmanship of the region, and his membership of the National Executive Council," added Robinson.
He said Troupe will also take leave of absence as deputy mayor and as councillor.
It was left to the PNP's general secretary, Peter Bunting, to address the case of Reid, who remains in police custody.
According to Bunting, Reid has not yet been charged and, as such, no information has come to the party from him.
The two councillors were arrested last Wednesday in an early-morning sweep by members of the Lottery Scam Task Force.
Since then, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness has led the calls for their resignation from the council, while a number of civic groups have endorsed this position.
On Friday, the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition argued that given the gravity of the allegations and charges, the PNP's president, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, had no option but to immediately require the councillors to resign from their positions.
"While we recognise the constitutional presumption of innocence of every accused person, the bar for holding public office must be set to the highest standard of probity and integrity," said the coalition.