KINGSTON, Jamaica , March 1, 2022 - The long awaited Vale Royal Talks - a mechanism for the two main political parties to have bipartisan dialogue on critical national issues - resumed on Sunday at the University of the West Indies Regional Head-quarters, with a wide ranging agenda covering matters from national security to the Jamaica 60 commemorations.
The last set of talks took place in 2019, and since March 2021, Opposition Leader Mark Golding has been calling for the resumption of these talks, in light of the high level of murders that have been taking place in the country.
"We want to be a proactive and constructive opposition that supports this national crisis of national security. We believe if we work on this together behind closed doors, where we can have open discussion about strategy and tactics, Jamaica will benefit from that, " Golding told a recent press conference.
A joint communiqué from Jamaica House noted that The Governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) led by their respective leaders, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Mark Golding, MP, met on Sunday, (February 27, 2022) for discussions under the Vale Royal Talks framework.
The following is the full text of the joint communiqué:
The Governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) led by their respective leaders, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Mark Golding, MP, met on Sunday, (February 27, 2022) for discussions under the Vale Royal Talks framework.
The three and a half-hour dialogue was hosted by the University of the West Indies around an agenda which included National Security, Constitutional Reform, Health and Jamaica 60 commemorations.
Prime Minister Holness and PNP President Mark Golding, MP, both gave opening remarks which set the tone of the meeting.
For his part, Prime Minister Holness noted that “It is important particularly in our form of democracy, where two political parties dominate, that there is a means by which both political parties can meet and discuss issues affecting the nation.”
The Prime Minister was positive about the prospects of the talks contributing to greater consensus on challenging national issues, “The talks, (in the past) have been successful and have assisted in reaching an understanding, particularly on critical national issues.”
In this regard, the Prime Minister committed to ensuring their continuation.
This being the first iteration of the Vale Royal Talks since becoming President of the People’s National Party, Mr Golding said, “This is something we've been asking for from as far back as my budget presentation in March 2021, and I hope the talks will be fruitful.”
Speaking on behalf of the PNP, Mr Golding committed to approaching the Vale Royal Talks from the standpoint of, “openness and good faith, with frank and open discussions.” He said, “It is within that context that we hope to reach a level of understanding of the approach that guides the PM’s actions, and hopefully we will find common ground in moving forward to achieve a safe Jamaica.”
The JLP delegation was represented by Party Leader the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Dr Horace Chang - General Secretary, Dr Aundre Franklyn - Deputy Chairman, Marlene Malahoo Forte, and Robert Nesta Morgan, Chairman of the JLP’s PR Committee.
The PNP was represented by: Party President Mark Golding, MP, Dr Angela Brown Burke - Chairman, Dr Dayton Campbell - General Secretary, Senator Donna Scott Mottley, Senator Peter Bunting and Nekeisha Burchell - Deputy General Secretary.
The dialogue was guided by the Chatham House Rule, where comments made during the meeting cannot be attributed to an individual, either directly or through implication. Likewise an individual's affiliation may not be identified, and both sides engaged in full and frank dialogue with a shared commitment to reaching consensus, where possible, and obtaining a better understanding from which to move forward.