Saturday 22 February, 2020

Portia issues another warning as PNP leadership race heats up

For the second time in six weeks, former Prime Minister and People’s National Party (PNP) President, Portia Simpson Miller, has been forced to distance herself from the leadership challenge involving the incumbent President, Dr Peter Phillips and his challenger, Peter Bunting.

Like she did in a Twitter post on June 12 when she appealed to supporters of both men to desist from using her image, or from claiming that she was supporting one or the other, Simpson Miller was at it again on Friday.

“On June 12, I released a statement making it clear that I would not be endorsing a candidate in the internal contest for President of the People’s National Party.

“My position remains the same,” she said in another Twitter post.

Simpson Miller added that: “Unfortunately, some persons have ignored my request and are using my name and image, giving the false impression that I am supporting one candidate over another.

“I ask that those responsible for using my name and image without permission to stop doing so with immediate effect.”

The former charismatic leader of the 80-year-old party has kept a relatively low profile since she retired from active politics in 2017 after 40 years.

She has asked the party’s General Secretary, Julian Robinson, and the committee set up to deal with breaches relating to the internal election to address the matter with some urgency.

“I continue to encourage Comrades to campaign vigourously for their candidate, always mindful that after the internal contest, we must continue our preparation for general elections,” Simpson Miller added.

And, with some amount of mudslinging having already taken place between the supporters of both camps, Simpson Miller is again pleading with Comrades to keep the campaign clean and respectful.

Simpson Miller has largely stayed away from the internal happenings within the party since she retired from active politics in the aftermath of the 2016 general election defeat. Her retirement paved the way for Phillips, who challenged her twice for the leadership of the PNP and lost on both occasions, to ascend to the positions of PNP President and Opposition Leader.

On September 7, party delegates will vote to determine whether Phillips will continue to lead the party, or whether Bunting, the Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, will take charge.


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