Ian Hayles, a former member of the Opposition JLP, told comrades at the launch of his campaign for the chairmanship of the PNP’s Region 6, at Montego Bay High School, that he was approached by Buchanan two years ago and told to mount the challenge.
However, the West Hanover MP claimed that he backed down at the time as he was not ready. On Thursday however, he issued a statement claiming that he had withdrawn the remarks: “It has come to my attention that remarks made by me on Saturday, August 15, 2015, at the Montego Bay High School have been interpreted by Mr Luther Buchanan as an affront."
While he has not apologised on the basis that his remarks attributed to Luther Buchannan were inaccurate, the West Hanover MP said "I wish to categorically state that it was never my intention, by virtue of my remarks, to cause Mr Buchanan to take umbrage. It is on this basis that I withdraw the remarks at issue forthwith, with the intention to dispel any such notion."
Hayles is yet to withdraw similar remarks he attributed to PNP Vice President Derrick Kellier, who denied having any such discussion with the Region 6 Challenger.
In fact, in remarks made at his constituency Conference a week before, Kellier forbade any challenges to to the Region 6 Chairmanship at this time. He pointed out that the timing was wrong, and noted that Dr. Duncan was the best person to take the Region through the upcoming general elections.
Kellier told his audience: "I hear some things taking place, but let me make it absolutely clear, for those of you that just came in somewhere along the road and don’t know the story [let me tell you] the full history of this region.
Ever since the debacle of the 70s that took place over in [Lucea] Hanover when there was a challenge for the post of Region Chairman between former Cde Howard Cooke and Cde Francis Tulloch; what happened down at Lucea was a disgrace and we have managed to put that behind us.
"In a very civilized way we have reorganized the way how we in this region as a PNP body operate when it comes to time to change the baton if that baton change is necessary.
"I am using this occasion to say to my Comrades inside here tonight, and to those who will carry the message further afield, that the leadership of the region has a responsibility to sit together and advise, and to guide the democratic process as to how and when things happen.
"We have never ceased to be the strongest Region the island. Since 1981 this Region has been made the strongest Region in the island of Jamaica because the leadership is united from the days of Noel Monteith, Ralph Anglin and all the rest of those great stalwarts who work together to ensure victory because we believe that unity is strength, and the only way that we can survive is if we go forward united.
"And I’m saying to you tonight, here in South St James, and to those that are here from Hanover and the rest of the parish, that Duncan has served us well and as far as I am concerned, and I am saying to my house, as far as me and my house is concerned, I am ready to keep Duncan in place as the Chairman of Region Six until the next election.
"When we face that election under the guidance of a veteran who really understand the politics, when we have done that then we can think about the baton change but it don’t suit us now to get into any acrimony about it because if we do that we are going to be divided and I know that wound in this party don’t heal quickly.
"There are some wounds that have been going on from the time of Vivian Blake and Michael Manley till now with the old guard, and there are other wounds that you know about. But I’m saying to you, everybody has ambition, but you have to temper that ambition and let us wait until the time is ripe and we take the decision at that time.
"But now is not that time. It has not yet come so I say to my Comrades now who are from other constituencies, tell them that I say just hold your horses little bit and let us continue the journey that we started with Duncan until we reach the next election and then we can talk after that. You understand what I say?"
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