Featured Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition and President of the People’s National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips, M.P.
KINGSTON, Jamaica January 1, 2019 - Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips says he is unable to make Wednesday's meeting to which he was invited on Monday by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to discuss crime strategies. He has suggested January 7 as an alternative meeting date.
Mr. Holness wrote to Dr. Phillips on Monday requesting a meeting with him Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Jamaica House. However, Dr. Phillips says he is not able to meet Wednesday due to the short notice. "We certainly are willing to meet. I have written to the Prime Minister, but we can't meet tomorrow, we can't assemble the team in time for tomorrow," he declared.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Dr. Phillips said he received the Prime MInister's invitation late on the evening of the 31st of December, some 12 days after he wrote the prime minister proposing that they meet within 48 hours to have critical discussions.
"That quite frankly raises a question of the sincerity of your motives, especially following the issue of an earlier news release from your office erroneously stating that I responded negatively to your invitation. It went further to denigrate the principled and constitutionally correct position of the Opposition," Phillips lamented in his letter to Holness.
Phillips said he shared the Prime Minister's concern over the extraordinarily high level of violent crime in Jamaica, and acknowledge the appreciable reduction in the levels of violent crime as a result of the activities of the security forces. He noted however, that "this reduction is only relative to 2017 crime statistics and that the number of murders for the year 2018 exceeds every year in the period 2011 to 2015 when there was no State of Public Emergency."
He said the PNP remained committed toparticipate in national efforts to enhance the security and safety of Jamaica within the boundaries of the law and the constitution. Indeed, the government that you lead has provided no evidence to support a constitutional extension of the State of Public Emergency," Phillips declared.
The Opposition Leader said the earliest the team can be assembled would be on January 7 2019, and suggested that a preparatory group with representatives from both parties meet on Wednesday instead to set the agenda and arrangements for the future meeting.
He said Member of Parliament Julian Robertson will lead the preparatory group on behalf of the People's National Party, but suggested that the main meeting also include members from civil society groups, such as the private sector, church, and Jamaicans For Justice.
Meeting with security forces
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness on Tuesday met with heads of the security forces to discuss crime management. The talks involved Jamaica Defence Force Chief of Defence Staff Major General Rocky Meade, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson and National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang.
The Prime Minister has been holding a series of consultations with the security chiefs in light of the impending end of the States of Emergency this month.
The State of Emergency in St. Catherine North will end on Wednesday, the one in the Corporate Area on January 7 and, in St. James, it will come to an end on January 31.
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