Violent elections predicted for Ja

Jamaica’s Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas has warned the nation that Jamaicans could be faced with a violent general election in 2007.

Mr. Thomas, speaking at the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s annual devotion on the lawns of the Constabulary Headquarters on Old Hope Road, St. Andrew Tuesday, said he had evidence that suggested the general election, which is constitutionally due this year, could be bloody.

“Intelligence to us is that (the) election won’t be peaceful,” the Police Commissioner said. “We seem to be going back to the politics of the 1980s. Everyone should prepare himself or herself for whatever holds. But we promise you we will police effectively and not play politics.”

He told The Gleaner that there has been increased movement and an accumulation of guns in various pockets within the island.

The Police Commissioner’s comments come only a month after some members of the Peace Management Initiative raised concerns over what they said was an accumulation of guns in some inner-city communities. The PMI worried that the accumulation could lead to an outbreak of political violence, which the country has not seen since 1980 when 600 people were killed during the general election that year.

PMI member Horace Levy told The Gleaner yesterday that, while the group did not expect violence to be as high as the 1980 General Election, it was expecting some amount of violence once elections are called.

But Tuesday, both political parties said they had seen no evidence of an increase or movement in weapons and that they had no intention of reintroducing intimidation as part of their election engineering.

People’s National Party Chairman, Robert Pickersgill, said while he trusted the intelligence of the police, he was neither aware of any accumulation of weapons nor had any reports been made to him of an intent to intimidate voters in the next general election.

Karl Samuda, general secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party, said his party is not supporting any form of intimidatory tactics.

“For our part, there is no such intention … I refer you to my report of the 63rd annual JLP conference when I made it clear that political violence is a redundant concept,” Mr. Samuda said.

He said he had no knowledge of weapons being accumulated for political reasons and questioned whether the police were using politics as a scapegoat for the high level of crime in the country, rather than dealing with it.