No election announcement this weekend; JLP postpones conferenceBURKE… party to hold mass rally in Portmore Sunday instead of a conference. CHANG… focus is on campaign.THE date for the next general election will not be announced on Sunday.There was speculation that the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) would be announcing the date for the election at a rally in Half-Way-Tree, the St Andrew capital.However, Paul Burke, the general secretary of the PNP, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the party will hold a mass rally Sunday in Portmore, St Catherine but said he is not expecting party president, Portia Simpson Miller, to announce the date for the polls. When asked if the date could be announced on Sunday, November 22, Burke said he could not answer that question.”What I can tell you is that the election will be held before December 2016,” said Burke. “This has consistently been my position.”If the Government wants the general election to be held before Christmas it must announce the date by November 22, given that there must be five clear days between announcement and nomination and 16 to 23 days between nomination and election day.If the Government holds out until the first week of December to name the date, it would have a longer wait as the new voters’ list, which will be published on November 30, must be five clear days old before it can be used for an election, while the usual time between announcement and nomination and election would also apply.There were, however, speculations yesterday that the date could be announced on November 22, and the election held during the week of December 14.In the meantime, General Secretary of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Dr Horace Chang said the party has opted to put off its annual general conference in favour of four regional conferences, not because it is broke, but because this was the most rational thing to do in light of what is widely believed to be an impending general election.He said the party wants to focus on its campaign instead of a conference.”If we had money spending, they would be saying a different thing. We didn’t see the justification, at this time, for a conference in the middle of what is an active election campaign. The public session that we are not proceeding with now we can reschedule,” he told the Observer.”We had an excellent conference, and we will have conference again, it’s not a problem. It’s just that, in the middle of an election campaign, it’s not the best thing to do. Conference takes a lot of organisation and operational activity and energy besides the financing and that essentially distracts from the fundamental responsibility to get your votes out on election day, which is not a simple process. It’s time-consuming and must be prepared for properly, which is what we are doing now,” he stressed.Dr Chang said that the JLP, in the meantime, is still getting its campaign message out to the wider public, using electronic media broadcasts as well as unconventional means such as social media.The general secretary assured that all the constitutionally due officer elections will be carried out at the four area council conferences.At the same time, he said the candidates’ list was “essentially” ready. “We put candidates in at the last minute sometimes. All of them are filled. Except maybe one in East Kingston and Port Royal, but we have somebody to go there, that’s not a problem. They are ready to take on the People’s National Party,” he said.”We are prepared to run the election this year and to win. The work is always one in progress and we will be ready,” Dr Chang declared.
Published By: The Observer
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