KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – After nearly five days of public pressure to address the nation on his surprise announcement to resign, Prime Minister Bruce Golding is to speak in a national broadcast on Sunday, according to a release from the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Last Sunday, Golding told the JLP’s central executive that he would not be seeking re-election as JLP Leader during the internal elections at the party’s annual conference in November.
But since then, large sections of the public as well as the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) have been insisting that Golding should explain the reason behind his sudden decision.
On Tuesday, he sought to reassure Parliament that he would address the matter in the near future.
This resulted in a near uproar among opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives, who insisted that Golding had an obligation to address the country.
Golding referred to Michael Manley’s resignation nearly twenty years ago and said Manley was not subjected to what he labelled as harassment.
Just as Golding did, Manley used a meeting of the PNP’s national executive in March 1992 to announce his intention to resign as PNP president and prime minister.
But Manley addressed the country later that night outlining a slew of health issues he said were behind his reason to quit.
Golding has received some support for his delay in telling the country the reasons behind his decision to resign.
In a release on Thursday, the New Nation Coalition (NNC) led by Betty Ann Blaine asked Jamaicans to be patient given that the prime minister is mourning his mother, who was buried on Wednesday.
“Anybody who has lost their mother knows how difficult it is. The Prime Minister is no exception. The country should respect this period bereavement and offer the emotional support Mr. Golding needs at this time,” the NNC said further arguing that it is the right and humane thing to do.
At the same time, Blaine said the NNC is expecting that in a short while the prime minister will address the nation, explaining exactly why he resigned, and “outlining the transitional framework for the change in leadership”.
The fledgling NNC said it is particularly concerned about “the instability in the management of the country that now seems imminent at a time when the economy is in its most fragile condition”.
Nominations are now officially open for the post of leader, deputy leader and general secretary of the 68-year-old ruling party.
At a news conference at the JLP’s headquarters on Thursday, JLP General Secretary Aundre Franklin said that although four names were being bandied about for the post of leader, no nominations have yet been received.
Franklin expressed confidence that the party, while shaken up by Golding’s announcement, would come together to select a new leader.
“The party code of conduct will be fully adhered to … a team has been established to monitor constituencies and how campaign activates are being carried out in these constituents. There’s a parish manager structure (which) ties in back with the area councils, which ties in back to our deputy general secretaries and then ultimately to me. We’ve activated our trusteeship (and) our trustees will be the team that treats with candidates and how they express themselves in keeping with our code of conduct,” Franklin said.
Voting will take place on November 19 during the private session of the party’s two day national conference.
With mounting speculation about the likely choice for the man who would lead the JLP into a general election within a year, there have been strong suggestions from party insiders and political observers that the education minister, Andrew Holness, who also leader of the House of Representatives, is the front-runner.
But the Gleaner said there were also indications the JLP had split into factions supporting either Holness or the finance minister, Audley Shaw. The JLP’s deputy leader, Christopher Tufton, who is also the industry, investment and commerce minister, has also been named as a possible contender.
There were reportedly “at least two heated meetings” of party members debating the best choice for the party, the paper added.
On Wednesday, party chairman Mike Henry said no nominee for the post had come forward so far. But JLP stalwart, Karl Samuda, also told reporters the same day that he had already identified “in his mind” the person who was best placed to take over the party’s leadership.
“I have decided in my mind who is the best person to secure victory for the Labour Party, in my mind, beyond any shadow of a doubt… Whosoever is chosen must be able to lead the party to victory at the general election. I don’t think winning a battle should be confused with winning a war,” Samuda told reporters.