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JLP provides more indication of early general election

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the leadership of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) have provided more hints that the next general election is imminent.

Jamaicans are constitutionally slated to go to the polls to elect a new Government next year, but more and more the JLP has provided signs that the general election will be this year.

The not so subtle hints continued on Monday night as Holness addressed jubilant JLP supporters in Mineral Heights, following the victory of the party’s candidate, Pearnel Charles Jr, in the Clarendon South Eastern parliamentary by-election.

Previously, Holness had declared that he looks to the heavens whenever he hears people say there is only one man who knows when Jamaica will return to the polls to elect a Government.

At that time he said that his sights are firmly set on the important Budget Debate, which opens on March 10, when Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke will announce how the Administration’s planned expenditure for the 2020-21 fiscal year will be financed.

But close to the end of Monday night’s victory speech, that lasted approximately 15 minutes — and included a plea for Jamaicans to do their part in reducing the possible impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Jamaica — Holness provided a clear clue on when he might call the election.

He said that soon he could call on them to engage in a similar exercise as they had done on Monday to elect Charles Jr as member of parliament for Clarendon South Eastern.

Even before Holness’s comments, JLP Chairman Robert “Bobby” Montague told journalists that by the end of this month the party’s executive should be in a position to give the prime minister the green light to call the elections whenever he is ready.

According to Montague, the JLP is always prepared for a general election, and when its Central Executive tells the party leader that it is 100 per cent ready he will be able to move.

“Yesterday (Sunday) we had a workers’ meeting for an indication of support for eastern Westmoreland and that went pretty smoothly. We are now looking at south east St Andrew to finish that, and as soon as the Central Executive meets in March and signs off on the full slate of candidates, that is another step on the road to getting ready,” said Montague.

“The Jamaica Labour Party is an institution, it is not about an individual, it is about an institution and we have rules and regulations, and we follow the process step by step. Nobody is going to rush us,” added Montague.

He argued that the Clarendon South Eastern by-election in which Charles Jr beat independent candidate Dereck Lambert by more than 6,000 votes, provided the JLP with an opportunity to test the state of readiness of its electoral machinery.

“The party put its machinery to the test in this constituency. We are field testing the organisation and there are many aspects to the testing.

“Throughout the campaign we tested some critical points in a campaign. You need to look at the canvassing, you need to look at polling, you need to look at the interaction with your workers, the level of training that is out there, organisations on the ground, how issues are treated with, how you pull your taxis together, how you deal with your lunch plan,” said Montague.

“So when you deal with the issues of a national organisation, it is not only about the voters, it is how you deal with the entire organisation. It is how you deal with your PR (public relations), how you place your signs, how you find your persons who are ill, how you find the persons who are outside the constituency,” added Montague.