Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The rescheduled meeting of the Central Executive of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is expected to examine a new-look code of conduct for party members ahead of the leadership election between incumbent Andrew Holness and challenger, Audley Shaw.
George Soutar, the chairman of the JLP's Electoral Commission which was set up early this month to flesh out the new code, confirmed the document was ready.
"The code of conduct will be put before the Central Executive on Sunday," said Soutar. "Until then, it is only a draft document, but it is certainly one of the issues to be dealt with."
The meeting, which was scheduled for last week, was pushed back to today. The Central Executive is the second most powerful organ in the JLP, behind the annual conference.
Soutar said the document was designed to regulate the conduct of persons involved in all internal elections in the JLP.
"It does not apply only to what is taking place now," said Soutar.
It also applies to occasions when there are consultations with delegates that precede an election.
"It seeks to regulate both processes, it applies to any member of the JLP who seeks to get elected to one of the officer positions."
Soutar said the document would also be applicable to those positions voted for in the all-island general council (annual conference) as well as positions that are up for elections at the Central Executive meeting that take place after the conference.
The leader of the JLP and the four deputy leaders are voted in at the annual conference, and the chairman of the party as well as deputy chairman, general secretary and four deputy general secretaries are elected at the meeting of the Central Executive.
Soutar reiterated that his team had decided that the voting process in the upcoming leadership election and other elections at the upcoming annual conference would be undertaken by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ).
"The process will be managed by them," he said.
When the JLP's Electoral Commission presents its draft code, it will be without Derrick Smith, the member of parliament for North West St Andrew.
Smith has withdrawn from the three-member committee to campaign for Holness in the leadership race.
He said the decision to "step down" only weeks after he was co-opted on the committee was made after careful consideration.
"Out of courtesy, I informed the Standing Committee that I am stepping down from being a member of the commission," he said.
Added Smith: "I was at pains to emphasise that I had no differences with the other two members of the committee (Soutar and Tom Tavares-Finson) or anyone, but in analysing my situation, and knowing exactly what I like to do, I recognise that my preference is to be in the field."
He vowed to pump all his energy into ensuring Holness prevails.
Smith stressed that he was convinced that Holness was the best man to steer the party through this critical juncture of the JLP, at this difficult time in Jamaica's development.
"Andrew Holness is the best option in the Jamaica Labour Party in the foreseeable future," he said.