The leader of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has welcomed the challenge to his leadership by former national security minister Peter Bunting, saying that it arguers well for the party gearing up for the next general election constitutionally due in 2021.
“The democratic tradition of the PNP remains vibrant and must ultimately be seen as an indication that comrades at all levels remain passionate about the party,” Phillips said, adding “I will not allow this challenge to endanger the viability of the PNP or its commitment to the Jamaican people to provide alternative leadership and effective governance”.
He said he wanted the challenge to be dealt with in a timely manner.
“Our paramount consideration must be to provide the Jamaican people with a strong and effective alternative to an out of control JLP government which has unleashed unprecedented scales of corruption on the Jamaican landscape,” Phillips said.
Bunting Sunday announced that he had thrown his hat into the leadership ring after claiming that following the party’s defeat in the last by-election in East Portland there has been increasing speculation about both the desirability and the likelihood of a change in leadership of the party.
“Uncertainty can be debilitating for a political movement, and an undeclared campaign is already starting to develop in social media and amongst party members. For good order and transparency, it is best that this speculation be put to rest as soon as possible.
“Therefore, I confirm that I am offering myself for president of the People’s National Party at the annual conference in September. This is a carefully considered decision which I believe to be in the best interest of the party and the country,” Bunting, 58, said in a statement.
But Phillips, 69, who was elected to the top position in the PNP on March 26, 2017 following the party’s defeat in the 2016 general election, said that his dedication to the party is evident over many years in his various roles as general secretary, vice president, and campaign director.
“I am glad for the expressed support of the delegates, Parliamentary and leadership groups as well as Jamaicans from all walks of life and I want to assure them that I will not allow this challenge to endanger the viability of the PNP or its commitment to the Jamaican people to provide alternative leadership and effective governance,” said Phillips, who took over from former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller.
He said he wanted the party after the challenge to refocus its efforts on the critical national issues that are plaguing Jamaica at this time.