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PNP candidates to face party's Integrity Commission

Published:Tuesday | October 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Portia Simpson Miller, prime minister and president of the People's National Party, speaks with Dr Peter Phillips, finance minister and deputy chairman of the party's National Campaign Committee.

Starting tomorrow, the Integrity Commission of the People's National Party (PNP) will begin its enquiry to determine whether the slate of selected standard-bearers is fit and proper for the upcoming general election.

The enquiry takes place ahead of a mandatory three-day Candidates' Preparation Retreat, set for next week.

Dr Peter Phillips, deputy chairman of the PNP's National Campaign Committee, has summoned the standard-bearers to the candidate retreat, to be held in Ocho Rios, St Ann, after the Integrity Commission completes its work.

PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, who is also prime minister, chairs the committee.

The work of the party's Integrity Commission comes in the wake of a series of tumultuous selection contests that have resulted in four sitting members of parliament being displaced.

Already, the Secretariat of the PNP has circulated to all pre-selected persons a document titled Personal Questionnaire and Declaration for Proposed Candidates or Officers of the People's National Party, a copy of which was obtained by The Gleaner.

The more than 25 new candidates will face the members of the commission before the incumbent parliamentarians, who were successful in the December 2011 general election.

In addition to 21 newcomers in the 63-candidate slate, there could be at least four replacements.

Sitting Members of Parliament D.K. Duncan (East Hanover) and Michael Peart (South Manchester) have formally indicated to the party that they will be retiring from representational politics.

Raymond Pryce (North East St Elizabeth), Lloyd B. Smith (Central St James), Lynvale Bloomfield (Eastern Portland), and Damion Crawford (East Rural St Andrew) were defeated in selection contests.

The findings of the Personal Questionnaire and Declaration for Proposed Candidates are to be subjected to the scrutiny of the commission, along with a follow-up interview.

This means that persons who enjoyed victory in recent selection exercises are not guaranteed rights of passage until they are given the green light by that body.

commission's queries

According to the document, aspiring candidates are to be quizzed on whether they have been charged with, or convicted of, any offence or otherwise found liable by a civil, criminal, or military court (excluding minor traffic offence) in Jamaica or elsewhere.

The Integrity Commission also wants to know whether any bank or other financial institution has ever threatened or commenced legal action or declined to do business with the potential candidate or businesses/commercial interests with which he or she is associated, or has been adjudged by any court for fraud.

If the questionnaire serves as guide, employment history and other personal and sensitive information will also be examined by the commission.

After the exercise is completed, the final slate of candidates will come face to face with the leadership and Secretariat of the PNP during a retreat at the Riu Ocho Rios Hotel, starting next week.

"As you are aware, prime minister and party leader Portia Simpson Miller has signalled that we should prepare ourselves for a general election," penned Phillips in correspondence dated October 1, 2015.

"This means that we have to prepare the organisation and put the party in a position of readiness so that she can, at any time, exercise her option to call the elections, confident in the knowledge that the party and all of us are ready to achieve victory," he added.

Continued Phillips: "It is mandatory for all candidates, campaign managers, mayors, and national party officers to attend and participate in the seminar for the entire period. It is absolutely imperative that we have full participation in this important exercise."