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PNP split on postponing polls

Published:Tuesday | August 25, 2020 | 12:16 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Lisa Hanna
Lisa Hanna

People’s National Party (PNP) finance spokesperson Mark Golding yesterday said that postponing next week’s general election would not be a wise move despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the island.

“Calling the election in the middle of a spike was a reckless, selfish and irresponsible act on the part of the prime minister,” Golding said during a virtual press conference yesterday.

“I am not convinced that it makes sense from a public health point of view to postpone it. What matters is how we campaign,” he responded when asked if the polls should be delayed.

While health officials have attributed much of the more than 500 cases of the coronavirus identified since last week to festivities over the Emancipation Day and Independence Day holidays in the first week of this month, Golding said the Government’s move to reopen the island’s borders to tourists in June was also part of the problem.

“My understanding is that the law only allows a postponement up to 30 days. The question is, are we better off getting this over and done with as quickly as possible, so that the kind of conditions that an election throws out are finished on the 3rd of September, or do we extend them for another 30 days? I am not convinced that it makes sense to extend,” he said.

But PNP campaign spokesperson Lisa Hanna indicated that she would be in support of a delay.

“Truth be told, I would not be opposed in the best interest of the health of our population for a postponement if all of the data, if the PSOJ (Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica), if the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, if Jamaicans actually feel that that is in our best interest,” she said.

On Sunday, PNP Vice-President Damion Crawford also suggested that the polls be pushed back.

“Calling an election at this time was treason. Continuing with it is manslaughter,” he tweeted.

Yesterday, he said: “I was ridiculed by many to suggest that we were afraid of losing this election. Everything about an election is against constraining a spike during COVID. Every single activity,” he said.

“I am also concerned that democracy is being surrendered because others can’t get the message because they don’t have Internet access, so face to face is almost the only methodology to give information to those people and, by extension, they are being sidelined,” he said.

“Anyone who is diagnosed positive between yesterday and the election, their quarantine period will go past the election date,” Crawford said.