Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Party bars non-paid-up members from participating in conference
The status of some diehard delegates of the People's National Party (PNP) remains in limbo as they have been barred from participating in the upcoming annual conference.
Delinquent delegates have been relegated to the status of mere observers after the leadership of the party ruled that they should not have a say in the upcoming confab.
PNP Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson told The Gleaner that the party's executive handed down the judgement at its weekly meeting.
"A decision was made that persons who were found to be in breach have a specific period up to September 23, which is the date of the first National Executive Council (NEC) meeting after conference, to regularise their status within the party," Robinson said. "They are allowed to observe, as the name suggests, but they will not be able to go on the floor and make contributions."
Robinson disclosed that the PNP executive decided that there would be no rerun of any of the elections of the six Regional Executive Councils (RECs) held last month.
MPS NOT AFFECTED
He revealed that while the delinquent delegates would not enjoy the opportunities accorded to paid-up members, members of parliament (MP) in breach of the constitutional provision would be able to participate fully.
"MPs are delegates in their own rights," Robinson said.
Some constituencies, which were won by the PNP in the 2011 general election, have also found themselves in contravention of the PNP's constitution as they are without the requisite number of 20 groups to be duly recognised by the annual conference, the PNP's largest decision-making body. As a result, they were unable to convene constituency conferences.
The conflict-ridden East Rural St Andrew is among several delinquent constituencies.
Robinson said while he was unable to state the specific number of delegates and constituencies affected, "There are quite a few who are what we term 'unrecognised constituencies,' which place them in the category of not being able to host an annual (constituency) conference."
He added: "So their status continues to be provisional at this point in time."
He said as there would be two categories of persons attending the private session of the conference.
"One set comprises duly paid-up members elected by the groups to represent them, and then we have a provision for observer status, where we allow those persons who are in a group that is in abeyance to be observers so their status continues to be provisional at this point in time."
Fortunately for the delegates, there will be no need for votes to be cast on Saturday as PNP President Portia Simpson Miller and all four incumbent vice-presidents - Noel Arscott, Dr Fenton Ferguson, Derrick Kellier and Angela Brown Burke - will be returned unopposed.
At last month's meetings of the six RECs, a range of discrepancies were brought to the attention of the PNP Secretariat, revealing that some high-profile stalwarts were not paid-up members of a duly constituted group. This, in effect, disqualified them from being official members of the party.
In the meantime, PNP General Secretary Peter Bunting said since he assumed the position in 2008, the PNP Secretariat has moved to tidy the group system, which was a source of contention in the lead-up to the 2006 presidential election.
In this regard, he said amendments were made to the PNP's constitution to, among others things, cap the number of groups that any constituency can have. This eliminated the issue of constituencies having hundreds of groups that were disproportionate to the state of the organisation in that constituency.