Sunday meeting of the Jamaican National Executive Council of the People’s National Party will be by invitation only.
It is expected that at this meeting party president and Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, will announce the date of the Special Conference of Delegates to elect the new leader of the party, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.
The contenders have been warned not to campaign at Sunday’s venue and to desist from mobilising their supporters at the site.
There are four contenders for the posts of PNP president and, consequently, Prime Minister of Jamaica, when Mr. Patterson demits office some time before April. They are: Local Government Minister, Portia Simpson Miller; National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips; Dr. Omar Davies, Finance and Planning Minister, and Dr. Karl Blythe, former Minister of Water and Housing.
During a press conference yesterday at the PNP’s Old Hope Road headquarters, party chairman Robert Pickersgill outlined a strict format of how Sunday’s meeting would be conducted.
“I want to emphasise that although we are aware that every member and supporter of the party would like to be present in the Jamaica Conference Centre for this historic event … it is not possible to accommodate everyone,” Pickersgill said. “As a result, I must emphasise that this meeting of the NEC is extended to only those mentioned earlier,” he added.
Mr. Pickersgill said that about 500 persons would be invited to the meeting.
Those to be invited include all NEC members, all life members, past Members of Parliament and specially invited guests.
The meeting will also be opened to the media for coverage and outside broadcasts.
In the meantime, Mr. Pickersgill said the leadership aspirants have been warned to ensure that there is no mass mobilisation of supporters at the NEC venue, as logistical arrangements cannot accommodate this.
“By agreement of the four aspirants, we are ensuring dignity and unity at Sunday’s meeting and as a result, there should be no campaigning, overtly or covertly,” he said.
In terms of the delegates’ list, party General Secretary, Burchell Whiteman, said that the list would be in place at the end of the nomination period.
Mr. Pickersgill promised that it would be a clean delegates’ list.
“… We will spare no effort to see to it that the lists are credible and acceptable and that we can move from that and that all parties concern will sign off on that,” he said.
The PNP Secretariat also expressed concerns about reports of what it calls “excesses” being levelled by contenders, against each other.
According to Mr. Whiteman, so concerned is the party that it has identified an individual to examine the reports.
Mr. Whiteman refused to name a candidate but said the party had received reports of excesses by contenders for leadership. He said the party hierarchy has made decisions as to how to deal with these concerns.
The PNP hierarchy has already had meetings with the candidates to inform them of leading proper campaigns.