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Burke to step down - Robinson appointed PNP general secretary-designate

Published:Sunday | September 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Robert Pickersgill (right), chairman of the People's National Party (PNP), and General Secretary Paul Burke (left) speak with members of the media during a press conference at yesterday's PNP NEC meeting at Hotel Versalles in May Pen, Clarendon.

Julian Robinson, the People's National Party (PNP) deputy general secretary who has served in that position for the last 13 years, was yesterday named the general secretary-designate as the party concluded its first National Executive Council (NEC) meeting since last weekend's annual conference.

Yesterday's meeting, held at Hotel Versalles in Clarendon, also selected a slate of officials to oversee the party's business for the next year.

Robinson will now assume the role of chief executive officer, directing the party's machinery on the heels of municipal elections widely expected before year end.

Long-standing chairman, Robert Pickersgill, who was yesterday elected unopposed for the 25th time, said Robinson's elevation to the position was to ensure a smooth transition.

"Today, the general secretary gave his report, and at the end of his report, he said to the NEC that he was offering his resignation, which he did. And it came as no surprise because you know Paul (Burke). I was about to say shoot from the hip. Paul is a plain, blunt man, and he said it publicly, and in the party, and he kept his word," said the party's chairman.

"Perhaps the only thing is that he is saying it is to take effect the 27th of November, which is the date of the next NEC meeting. And the opportunity was taken to appoint Comrade Julian Robinson as the general secretary-designate because in the period, it will be a smooth transition and we don't know what might happen because there might be parish council elections or not, and Paul has quite rightly said, or appropriately said, that whether or not there are parish council elections, his resignation is there," explained Pickersgill.

Burke said he held on to see the party through the local government elections, but whether it was held before or after, "Sunday, 27th November, is a fixed date for my departure from the position as general secretary".

He declined to describe his tenure, but said, "Nobody pushed me. Nobody pushed me. It was my decision and mine alone."

Robinson said the executive would decide if a cadre of four general secretaries would be chosen, or if it would return to the two as the party's constitution allows.

He was confident of the impending elections and said a team was already in place with specific objectives for getting the best election results.

Pickersgill said the NEC completed its constitutional responsibilities following the annual conference.

"Primarily, it is to choose the chairman, deputy chairman, and 11 members of the executive. We were able to complete that," Pickersgill told journalists.

"The first meeting of the newly appointed executive will be the appointment of the treasurer, the legal officer, and four co-opted members, and the executive will be duly constituted," Pickersgill stated.

According to him, at the next meeting of the executive, a new treasurer will be appointed.

"We are in a state of flux right now, but time will tell. And you will be kept abreast of that," Pickersgill told journalists.

That time will come next Monday when the executive convenes its first meeting.

It is expected that nominations will be made and a decision taken at that meeting.

Vice-chairman Anthony Hylton was also returned unopposed, while 11 members were elected from various arms and affiliates of the party to complete the executive, which meets weekly.