The Jamaica Debates Commission, JDC, says the PNP has said it’s not prepared to participate in any debate with the JLP, until Opposition Leader Andrew Holness satisfactorily addresses the integrity related and other issues they’ve raised publicly.
The JDC made the revelation in a statement sent just after midday.
Last night’s letter from the PNP to the JDC has effectively ruled out any national political debates for this election cycle.
The JDC published the PNP’s letter, which notes that the party’s previous position on the debates remains unchanged.
After months of negotiations, which began early last year, the JDC says it finds the PNP’s position regrettable and unfortunate.
It says having signed an agreement with both political parties to stage a debate before local government elections and an MOU in November 2015 committing to three debates before the general elections, it’s very disappointing that issues unrelated to the debate format had subsequently been introduced.
A resource member of the Debates Commission is Trevor Fearon.
The JDC says the resolution of any differences between the JLP and PNP should not get in the way of debates.
Mr. Fearon says he’s hopeful the debates could still take place before the elections.
Reacting, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, says he’s disappointed that the PNP will not debate if he’s participating.
Mr. Holness says while nothing from the PNP surprises him anymore, he feels for the undecided voters who’ve been let down by the PNP’s stance.
He says the PNP’s position on the debates is a disservice to free and fair elections and an insult to Jamaica’s democratic process.
According to Holness, the people of Jamaica deserve to hear the vision of the individuals vying to serve them as Prime Minister.
Mr. Holness says debate or not, the JLP will continue to talk about the important issues facing Jamaica because only that party creates a partnership for prosperity with the people.
He notes that he remains willing and ready to debate anytime, anywhere.
And the President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, William Mahfood, says the PNP’s position on the debates will hurt the party at the polls.