|Let nothing stop us from exercising the right to vote -- Phillips
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
|PHILLIPS... we must not allow criminality to mask itself as political support for one party or another and retard the work of the security forces|
SECURITY Minister Peter Phillips, in a national broadcast last night, outlined security arrangements for election day, saying the security forces were prepared for more than an electoral exercise.
"I would like to assure you that the security forces are fully prepared for election day," said Phillips. "They have been equipped with all the necessary resources to keep the peace."
In addition to the allocation of $100 million to the security forces for election day, the following measures, he said, form part of the security plan:
* the recent supply of 100 cars to the police;
* additional helicopters to improve surveillance;
* video cameras for the Constabulary Communication Network;
* the use of police armoured cars;
* protective gear for front-line police officers; and
* the provision of 500 mobile radios.
Phillips also said all relevant government agencies were instructed to provide the security forces with whatever they required.
"In addition to these provisions," he said, the Jamaica Defence Force would be giving "full support" to the police, noting that both forces have established a joint operation centre and have joint plans, in addition to individuals ones.
Phillips' broadcast came against the background of nearly two weeks of rising violence -- some acts with political overtones -- and which has prompted appeals for peace from the leaders of the main political parties, civil society and the diplomatic community.
In last night's broadcast, the national security minister suggested that criminality had sought the political cover.
"We must not allow criminality to mask itself as political support for one party or another and retard the work of the security forces," warned Phillips.
He added: "Certainly, there has been a declining trend in crime and violence. Up to the present time, murders are down by 14 per cent over the corresponding period last year. Generally, major crimes have been trending downwards (and) there are 124 murders less than last year at this time."
According to Phillips, every precaution has been taken to ensure that citizens can be free to exercise their democratic right to vote and conduct normal business on October 16.
He appealed to all citizens, especially political candidates and operatives, to observe the laws and regulations governing election day and to generally co-operate with the security forces.
"This is our country -- Jamaica land we love," noted Phillips. "We must let nothing stop us from exercising the right to vote in free and fair elections."
"Our security forces stand well equipped and ready to ensure that you and I are able to enjoy this democratic freedom," added the security minister.