PNP concedes by-election ‘Observer’ mission, but ‘for good reason'
The People's National Party's Patricia Duncan Sutherland addresses journalists during the South East Clarendon by election which her party boycotted. (Photos: Marlon Reid)
People’s National Party (PNP) caretaker for South East Clarendon, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, has conceded that she has a team of persons across the constituency observing the by-election, which she said is in preparation for the general elections to come within less than a year.
Her statement came in response to Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Chairman, Robert Montague’s assertion that the PNP ‘Observer’ team members have seemingly been bent on disrupting the smooth flow of the polls, and trying to keep some persons, including PNP supporters, from voting for the JLP candidate, Pearnel Charles Jr.
The Opposition PNP has officially boycotted the by-election, but a series of peripheral events since then have left open the question of whether it has been a real boycott.
Duncan Sutherland, in an interview, said she was among the PNP observers of the day, who were present outside each polling cluster, monitoring the day’s activities.
“We have observers on the ground to see what’s going on… They are not inside the polling stations, they are outside because we can’t make an election pass and we don’t see what’s going on, that’s what political parties do,” said Duncan Sutherland.
In direct response to Montague’s assertion, she said: “Not at all. We are not into voter suppression; certainly that’s not my way of doing things.”
PNP election 'Observers' gather intelligence during the by-election in South East Clarendon.
She said while she would “be quite surprised” if core PNP supporters came out to vote for Charles Jr, “I would not be surprise if there are some youths who say that they think about PNP and think about the JLP, and the word on the ground is that there is a lot of money out there, and if people are hungry, it is easy to bribe them.”
Duncan Sutherland said she enjoys some strong friendships across the political divide, and in fact has good regards for Charles Jr, her expected rival in the pending general elections. She said, for example, a close relative of hers is one of Charles Jr’s best friends, which shows that politicians are not as divided as political supporters are perceived to be, and she is looking forward to a vibrant contest for the seat come the general elections.