Jamaica’s PNP fallout begins

The casualties from last Saturday’s presidential elec-tion in the People’s National Party have started with a senior member of parliament relinquishing his position as an opposition spokesman while a caretaker has resigned.

At the same time, a sitting MP is to be challenged for the leadership of her constituency.

News surfaced late yesterday that Opposition Spokesman on Local Government, Dean Peart, has resigned from that position.

Rosemarie Shaw, a vocal sup-porter of Dr Peter Phillips, spent yesterday speaking with supporters in Western St Thomas before handing in her resignation as caretaker and chairman for the constituency.

Another key Phillips backer, Maxine Henry-Wilson, seems set to face a challenge for the job as chairman of the PNP’s organisation in South East St Andrew, where she has been the MP since 2002.

Shaw told The Gleaner that her decision to resign was directly linked to the election result, which saw Portia Simpson Miller beating Phillips by 373 votes.

“I think I should do the right thing by resigning so that the Comrade leader can put in place someone who she has full confidence in,” Shaw said.

Shaw said she had previously told the party’s leadership in Region Two that she was unlikely to contest another general election after her 2007 defeat by the Jamaica Labour Party’s James Robertson, but decided to delay her resignation after Phillips announced his challenge for the leadership.

“I resigned as a matter of principle. If Peter Phillips had won, I think I would have stayed on,” Shaw told The Gleaner.

She said she had taken a similar decision after the 2006 presidential contest, but was persuaded by the general secretary to remain in the post and contest the 2007 election.

Shaw, a former JLP activist, resigned from that party after a public fallout with the then Edward Seaga-led party in 1995.

She joined the PNP after JLP councillors passed a no-confidence motion removing her as mayor of Morant Bay.

In the meantime, PNP sources in South East St Andrew told The Gleaner that they are eagerly awaiting the constituency conference to oust Henry-Wilson as chairman.

The conference was initially scheduled for early August, but was called off following a meeting in Nannyville, St Andrew, where Comrades called for a return of former MP Easton Douglas who had walked away from the constituency paving the way for Henry-Wilson.

Douglas, who led the Simpson Miller campaign team, has not yet indicated if he would be willing to return to representational politics and efforts to contact him yesterday were unsuccessful.

However, the sources say if Douglas is not interested, every effort will be made to entice vice-president Angela Brown-Burke to take charge of the constituency.

That should come as no surprise to political watchers as Brown-Burke was among those who influenced Comrades in South East St Andrew to back Simpson Miller although their MP, Henry Wilson was supporting Phillips.

Andrew Swaby, the only sitting councillor in the constituency was also among refused to side with Henry-Wilson .

Efforts to contact Henry-Wilson yesterday were unsuccessful, but she had earlier indicated that a defeat for Phillips would cause her to examine her role in the party.

“If the candidate loses, we continue to be members of the People’s National Party, but we would probably operate from a different level. We do not intend to divide the party because the party is much larger than any of us,” Henry-Wilson told The Gleaner nine days ago.

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