Central Manchester MP Peter Bunting, is describing as ‘Divisive and Untrue’, a claim by PNP General Secretary Paul Burke, that he, Bunting, was never asked by the officers of the PNP not to mount a leadership challenge in September.

Mr. Bunting told his Central Manchester constituency conference last night that a request from the Officers Corps of the PNP contributed to him deciding not to mount a challenge for the post of party President in September.

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But in a statement this morning, Paul Burke said no such request was made of Bunting by the PNP officers.

Mr. Burke said some officers may be happy that Bunting will not be seeking nomination this year.

But he says it’s absolutely untrue that the officers had asked the former security Minister to postpone his ambition.

Mr. Burke say it’s accurate that Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill indicated at a July 4 meeting of the officers that he, Pickersgill would wish to know if there would be a contest for the position of Party President.

Burke says the party Chairman may have taken it upon himself to indicate his view about a challenge to the party aspirants. But Mr. Burke says at no time did Pickersgill speak on behalf of the officers.

Bunting fired back in a statement just after 4:00 this afternoon.

The Central Manchester MP said – “in discussions with the Chairman of the Party, Comrade Pickersgill, he stated that the Officers believed that a Presidential contest in September would have a negative impact on the PNP in the upcoming parish council elections.”

Mr. Bunting says Chairman Pickersgill indicated that he was mandated to engage possible aspirants and discourage any challenge.

Bunting says today’s statement by Burke on this issue exposes, once again, his propensity to create controversy and disunity in the PNP.

He says Burke’s actions are most unfortunate at a time when unity in the PNP is key in anticipation of the calling of parish council polls.

Mr. Bunting says it’s in the spirit of getting ready for parish council polls and in the interest party unity that he made his position clear last night that he will not be challenging Mrs. Simpson Miller in September.

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