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EDITORIAL: A possible route to redemption for PM

Published:Tuesday | May 25, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaican Government, in the current circumstances, was right to impose the state of emergency it declared Sunday evening for the Corporate Area of Kingston and St Andrew. The state was under threat from armed terrorists, criminals and thugs attempting to prevent even basic legal proceedings for the extradition to the United States of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

The United States wants to put Mr Coke, the reputed leader of the notorious Shower Posse gang, on trial for cocaine and gun smuggling. But over several days, Mr Coke's acolytes and their generals erected fortified barricades around Tivoli Gardens and fired on members of the security forces when they presumed they were intent on entering the community to extract the 'don'. Like-minded criminal terrorists have engaged in similar acts of intimidation and mayhem elsewhere in the city. At least two policemen as well as civilians have been killed in these acts of terrorism.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding is right that such challenges to the state and the safety and welfare of its citizens cannot be tolerated or be allowed to triumph. "It has to be met, and turned back", as Mr Golding said in his speech on Sunday night, "with determination and resolve".

disappointing and sapping

It is unfortunate that the current situation, along with the broader issue of politically linked criminality which it represents, has been allowed to come to this. And it is especially disappointing and sapping that it is happening under the watch of Mr Golding, who is halfway through his premiership.

For a decade and half, Mr Golding preached against the dangers of the nexus between criminality and politics in Jamaica and the zones of political exclusion, the so-called garrison communities, spawned by this relationship. But not only has he done little in office to break those ties, but for nine months his government resisted America's attempt to extradite Mr Coke, ostensibly on high-minded constitutional grounds. The Government relented when Mr Golding's role in the hiring of US lobbyists to help in the Coke affair became known.

confront the powers of evil

All, perhaps, is not lost and the current events, as Mr Golding suggests, could be the turning point. In his speech of atonement a week ago, the prime minister pledged to rekindle his anti-garrison initiatives and on Sunday night he declared the state of emergency "the turning point for us as a nation to confront the powers of evil".

It can be if Mr Golding has the will and gumption to proceed. Mr Golding, at this point, has little to lose. His premiership is already badly scarred. This is a possible route to redemption.

If Mr Golding is indeed serious about confronting those powers of evil, he will not only have to declare his personal renunciation, even if tangential, of any relationship with the hard men of violence and at the same time confront and sideline those within the ruling Jamaica Labour Party who gain, politically and otherwise, from their links with criminals. It matters not if these persons are members of the Cabinet who may be of long experience and with substantial economic resources.

While this fight against criminality and the freeing of communities must, in the long run, be a national initiative, Mr Golding must be prepared to begin, and to go it alone, even if it means short-term advantage to his political opponents. They, ultimately, will have to fall in line.

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