KINGSTON, Jamaica – What could have been a relatively peaceful nomination day was marred by two shooting incidents Tuesday afternoon in Kingston and St. Andrew, which left two policemen nursing gunshot wounds and an elderly woman dead in Grants Pen.
In between these incidents, 146 persons were officially designated candidates after they were nominated by electors to run in the August 27 general election.
Director of Elections, Danville Walker, told journalists at a hastily called press conference yesterday that the shootings were being treated as a police matter.
The two major political parties – the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party – each nominated 60 candidates – while the National Democratic Movement has put up 11 candidates. The Imperial Ethiopian World Federation Incorporation Party has nine candidates.
Ras Astor Black of the Jamaica Alliance Movement and Ivuwaqayliz Yuwakhid of the Jerusalem Bread Foundation were also nominated, while four independents have joined the race for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Leader of the JLP, Bruce Golding, and PNP President, Portia Simpson Miller, were nominated without incident in their respective constituencies of Kingston Western and St. Andrew South West.
Mrs. Simpson Miller and her rival, the JLP’s Garnet Reid, greeted each other with an embrace at the nomination centre at Greenwich Primary and Junior High School on Spanish Town Road.
In the JLP stronghold of West Kingston, the PNP’s Joseph Witter and his supporters were thronged by Labourites who lined Spanish Town Road, awaiting the arrival of their leader. The two groups exchanged pleasantries before Mr. Witter departed.
Mr. Golding arrived with trumpets and the beating of drums as an energetic band paved the way for him to enter the nomination centre at Denham Town High School.
On Monday, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Professor Errol Miller, warned candidates that where violence and disorder prevailed in a constituency due to the action of their supporters, the commission would enforce the law.
The commission has said that it would ask the Commissioner of Police to ban all marches, motorcades, meetings and other forms of campaigning.
However, if this action failed to restore peace to a constituency, the commission says it would apply to the Governor-General to postpone the election in that constituency, “so that the full resources of the State can be brought to bear on that constituency”.
Professor Miller made it clear that under the Representation of the People Act elections must not take place in circumstances of riot, civil disturbance and open violence. “Candidates must not win elections by fraud, violence or intimidation,” he stressed.