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PM wasn't forced to call election, says Franklyn - PNP spokesman hits back at Holness as political battle intensifies

Published:Monday | February 1, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Angella Brown Burke (right), vice-president of the People's National Party (PNP), addresses journalists while communications director Delano Franklyn looks on during a press conference at the party's Old Hope Road, St Andrew, headquarters yesterday.

The verbal duel under way between the two major political parties over Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's decision to call the general election ahead of the upcoming Budget Debate intensified yesterday, with People's National Party (PNP) campaign spokesman Delano Franklyn in counterattack mode.

In response to a range of initial strikes from Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness, who went on the warpath last week as talk of the election announcement loomed large, Franklyn rushed to the defence of his party president.

"The prime minister was not forced, pushed or cajoled," Franklyn said.

"The prime minister exercised her rights under the Constitution, based on her assessment of the situation, to call an election, and as such she has called the election."

But as he did last week, Holness said after the election date was announced Sunday night, that Simpson Miller was employing underhanded tricks in her "mad rush" to summon Jamaicans to the polls, ahead of a Budget presentation likely to unleash tough times on Jamaicans.

But even as he fired salvos at Holness, Franklyn declined to elaborate on what entailed the "situation" that influenced Simpson Miller, when he was quizzed by journalists during press briefing at the PNP's Old Hope Road,

St Andrew, headquarters yesterday.

"The prime minister would have considered many factors to have called the election at this time, and I want to leave it at that," he said.

Holness called for election

Franklyn also charged that "what the leader of the Opposition is trying to do is to say that the prime minister was forced" and urged the nation to "try and recall" that it was Holness who had been calling for the election.

"This is the same leader of the Opposition who, up until the end of last year, stated quite anxiously that he would wish to have elections as early as possible," he said.

Added Franklyn: "I recall one of the leaders of the JLP saying, 'Bring it on.' I can recall another saying that he had discovered some polling results somewhere which showed that the PNP had reduced its number from 42 to 37, then to 32, then to 27."

Continued Franklyn: "I don't understand now, the reason being advanced by them through the leader of the Opposition as to this thing of being forced to call an election when the prime minister can do so as she sees fit at any point in time."

Holness has charged that the Simpson Miller-led PNP was rushing into an election ahead of the next Budget.

Franklyn claimed that the leadership of the PNP was eyeing all 63 seats.

"No candidate will be left behind," he stressed.

"All candidates will be treated equally and given the support which will be required to carry out their work on the ground," Franklyn added.

Reiterating that the PNP will be running on the record of its achievements, Franklyn emphasised that the priority will be for all candidates to be in the trenches, among the people, in every household as possible and in very nook and cranny of their constituencies.

"From the standpoint of the campaign committee and leadership of the party, every candidate will be given a fair opportunity to come home with their respective constituencies," said Franklyn.