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‘ONE LEADER!’ - Phillips staves off critics to hold on to presidency

Published:Monday | April 15, 2019 | 12:17 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips

Under-pressure People’s National Party President (PNP) Dr Peter Phillips yesterday fired salvos at detractors in the party, telling Comrades yesterday that he does not want to be looking over his shoulders while he takes on the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Phillips, 69, is fighting to hold on as president of the 80-year-old party as there has been simmering discontent among factions of the PNP as some influential party members and supporters have been plotting to get rid of him as president.

They were given extra ammunition over the past few weeks as the PNP lost a second parliamentary seat since Phillips took over the leadership.

However, while addressing a special meeting of the PNP National Executive Council held at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Phillips said he was the only leader of the party at this time and would be asserting his supremacy. The NEC is the PNP’s most powerful decision-making body outside of conference.

Impeccable Gleaner sources who were present at yesterday’s private meeting said Phillips asked the NEC about its position on his leadership, which prompted a large portion of the meeting to stand in a show of support.

“Some persons from certain regions did not stand up, and a noticeable area in the room did not stand either, but for the most part, he got the majority of the support in the room at the time,” a senior PNP parliamentarian, who did not want to be identified, told The Gleaner yesterday after the meeting had ended.

Some of those who stood chanted “One leader!” much to the appeasement of Phillips, PNP insiders said.

Phillips also told Comrades that the party must seriously examine the changing political landscape of the country.

Scores of supporters wearing orange T-shirts emblazoned with his name, image and the words ‘East Central St Andrew’ were positioned on the fringes of the meeting room. East Central St Andrew is the constituency represented by Phillips.

The PNP president told the NEC members that he was establishing several committees to examine the party’s structures.

They are the canvassing, technology, and welfare committees.

General secretary of the PNP, Julian Robinson, said he was not surprised by the level of support at the meeting.

“The party affirmed its confidence in its party leader. He outlined a programme of work which was unanimously accepted by the NEC. He announced a number of groups to look at political education, and his presentation was fully supported by the NEC,” Robinson reported.

“In challenging times, Comrades come together, support each other, and the unamious view is that the party leader should continue doing what he is doing with the recognition that something needs to be done differently, and he outlined those things,” the general secretary further said.