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'Hugo' Buchanan faces delegates today - South West St Bess MP expects to remain at helm when votes are counted

Published:Saturday | September 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Hugh Buchanan: The delegates have told me not to worry, because I will be safe.

Hugh Buchanan, member of parliament (MP) for St Elizabeth South Western, will today face more than 300 People's National Party (PNP) delegates in a constituency selection vote to determine if he will be the party's standard-bearer in general election widely expected by year end.

Buchanan, the son of late former MP Donald Buchanan, is being challenged by Ewan Stephenson for the right to represent the party.

PNP General Secretary Paul Burke said delegate selection would take place, even though the party has postponed the contest in St Elizabeth North West involving incumbent Raymond Pryce and Santa Cruz businessman Evon Redman.

"The race will take place in South West St Elizabeth. Everything is in place for that contest," Burke confirmed for The Sunday Gleaner.

Buchanan said yesterday he was confident that when the race was over, he would remain the party's point man for the constituency in the general election.

"Most definitely. I expect to be the party's representative after the election. You see, I know all my delegates and I am in touch with them. So today is just a matter of dotting i's and crossing t's," he told The Sunday Gleaner.

"The delegates have told me not to worry because I will be safe. I have been meeting and discussing with them what we have been doing as a government and how it is impacting their lives. In spite of the difficulties, they have assured me that they want me to continue doing the job," he explained.


Contest acrimonious


Buchanan said the contest had become somewhat acrimonious, but that he had no reason to go down that road, and he didn't.

Stephenson could not be reached for comment.

St Elizabeth South West is among the swing seats in Jamaican politics. In 2007, the Jamaica Labour Party's Christopher Tufton won by close to 2,000 votes, but four years later, in December 2011, he lost to Buchanan by 13 votes. There are 346 eligible

delegates, and Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson will oversee the proceedings. The vote-off will take place at the Black River Primary School beginning at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, Burke said the sudden postponement of the contest in St Elizabeth North West was due to a number of "considerations".

"There were some last-minute considerations because the party wanted to make sure that everything was perfect. But the executive will take a decision as to when it will take place when it meets on Monday," added Burke.

Comrades have expressed disappointment over the stewardship of Pryce and the relationship in that constituency has been less than harmonious, even hostile, in recent months.

News also came yesterday that Hanover Eastern MP, veteran Dr D.K. Duncan, has told the party he will not contest the upcoming general election. Duncan relieved himself of the chairmanship of Region Six about a fortnight ago, allowing MP for Hanover Western Ian Hayles to be elected unopposed.

It was not immediately clear if there will be a selection contest for the constituency.