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Portia warned!

Published:Friday | May 27, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Simpson Miller

  • Cables disclose PNP leader alerted about corrupt politician

A ranking member of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has attracted the attention of three of Jamaica's major international partners who suspect that he might be involved in illegal or corrupt activities.

The politician has long been on the radar of security agencies in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, which warned the then new PNP President Portia Simpson Miller about his possible influence on her administration after her victory in the 2006 leadership race.

In fact, the three partners had expressed great concern about the character of this politician and some of the other persons who backed Simpson Miller's campaign to lead the PNP.

Diplomatic cables acquired by The Gleaner through the international non-profit media entity, WikiLeaks, show that the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom conveyed to Simpson Miller their unease.

They warned that persons with criminal ties could seek to align themselves with her administration after the victory that propelled her into the role of Jamaica's first female prime minister.

The influential partners were particularly concerned about someone they described as a key PNP member and made it known that they feared the person could be named as a member of Simpson Miller's Cabinet. A confidential diplomatic cable, marked classified, sent from the United States Embassy in Kingston to Washington in March 2006, said a parliamentary colleague of Simpson Miller was "bluntly" told of the concern.

The cable - sent shortly after Simpson Miller became prime minister and before she named a new Cabinet - said her parliamentary colleague was told "that the Canadian, US and UK missions are indeed concerned about (the person's) reputed illicit activities and associations, and the possibility that he (or others like him who supported Simpson Miller's campaign) could hold sensitive positions, or wield influence, in her government."

According to the cable, the PNP president's parliamentary colleague did not seem surprised by the allegations against the party member.

The senior PNP member, in fact, figures in several of the cables from the US Embassy with allegations of his involvement in several illegal activities. He was described by the US as "a politician with a past" who at one point "was a rising political star ...".

While there was no indication that the embassy was suggesting any action against him, it was clear that the Americans were wary of his influence on the local political scene and wanted to see him sidelined by Simpson Miller.