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Phillips says leadership battle setting back constituency candidate selections

Published:Tuesday | June 25, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Phillips ... Members of the party's leadership are instead concentrating their efforts on this internal leadership contest.

Danae Hyman, Online Reporter

People's National Party (PNP) president Dr Peter Phillips has confirmed that the impending leadership battle has set back plans to select prospective candidates for some constituencies.

About six constituencies are still without a PNP representative, a member of the party's hierarchy has told The Gleaner. 

The general election is constitutionally due by February 2021.

In a letter to party chairman Fitz Jackson last night, Phillips also said the leadership challenge has disrupted the reorganisation of the Opposition's shadow cabinet.

"Matters relating to strengthening constituency organisations and developing a national political strategy, on which we have embarked, are being sidelined," Phillips told the chairman, asking that an early date be set in September for the leadership contest. 

Last night, the PNP secretariat said the leadership election is likely to be held on September 7. 

The date is to be ratified by the party's National Executive Council.

Manchester Central MP Peter Bunting will be challenging Phillips for the presidency.

Phillips, in the letter to Jackson, said Bunting is entitled to seek election.

However, he said there is a misplaced priority of efforts in the party.

"Members of the party's leadership, instead of focusing on seats where the JLP is vulnerable, as they should be doing at this point in the national electoral cycle, are instead concentrating their efforts on this internal leadership contest," Phillips told Jackson.

He said, as a result, it was in the best interest of the party that the contest be settled speedily as all the conferences being held both at the divisional and constituency levels have become preoccupied with the question of leadership.

Bunting had rejected a suggestion to hold a special delegates' conference for the presidential election.

He insisted that the election should happen during the annual conference.

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