Thu | Aug 5, 2021

Phillips puts PNP on general election watch - Party president says next polls likely to be called on November voters’ list

Published:Tuesday | July 30, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Although his future is uncertain as to whether he will remain the People’s National Party president after September 7, Dr Peter Phillips has told the party’s powerful National Executive Council (NEC) to get ready for a general election.

Speaking on Sunday at the NEC meeting at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Phillips urged Comrades not to be distracted by the internal presidential campaign since Peter Bunting disclosed that he was challenging Phillips for the top spot. Instead, the party leader urged supporters to keep their eyes on the larger battle and to ensure the enumeration of voters ahead of the deadline for the November voters’ list.

“I hope despite all the contentiousness that exists that constituencies will recognise that they have an obligation not to ignore this enumeration period that ends on September 30,” Phillips urged.

He again stressed that the PNP had its eyes set on 10 so-called vulnerable parliamentary seats currently held by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as it seeks to retain the 29 it currently has.

“Remember, the September 30 enumeration period will produce a list on November 30 and that list on November 30th will go until May 2020,” he said.

“It is quite possible – indeed, probable – that is the list on which national elections will be held,” Phillips reasoned at the NEC meeting.

But elections are not constitutional due until 2021, although the prime minister has the authority to set an earlier date.

“Who have ears to hear, let them hear,” Phillips warned.

Phillips rose to the presidency of the PNP in March 2017 when Portia Simpson Miller retired from the post a year after she led the party to a one-seat defeat in the February 2016 polls. The party has lost two seats to the JLP in by-elections triggered by the deaths of sitting PNP members of parliament since he took the reins.

Bunting has downplayed talk that an election may be called soon as Phillips’ supporters have been accusing him of jeopardising the party’s chances at winning the next general election.

“With only a little over three years into a five-year term, everybody’s now saying, ‘But elections are about to be called’, ... but I don’t see any logic why an election is about to be called. And, you know, anything can happen, but I really don’t buy that at this time,” Bunting said last month as he addressed supporters in May Day, Manchester.