Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Ministers, political candidates walk for peace in Maverley

By Lynford Simpson, Staff Reporter
Jamaica Gleaner
Monday, October 14, 2002

The Rev. Devon Dick (left) of the Mead-Haven Ministers' Fraternal prays at the spot where Carl Campbell collapsed and died along Clarion Road, Maverley. Occasion was a walk through the inner-city community last week by members of the Ministers' Fraternal and the four candidates contesting the North West St. Andrew seat in Wednesday's general election. - Michael Sloley /Freelance Photographer

MEMBERS OF the Mead-Haven Ministers' Fraternal, led by the Rev. Devon Dick, along with the four candidates vying for the North West St. Andrew seat in Wednesday's general election, staged a walk for peace through the inner-city community of Maverley last Friday, where political violence has claimed at least two lives in the past 10 days.

The four candidates are Derrick Smith who is the incumbent Member of Parliament representing the Jamaica Labour (JLP); Nenna Wilson of the People's National Party (PNP); Dr. Rosemarie Higgins of the National Democratic Movement (NDM); and Dilpie Champaigne of the International Ethiopian Federation Incorporated Party (IEFIP).

They, along with the Ministers' Fraternal, are hopeful that the walk will help to bring back the peace to a community that is said to be on edge. This was clearly evident in the numerous blockades that have been used to seal entry and exit points of the different streets in a community in which both the PNP and JLP enjoy strong support.

"This is a ministry of presence. We are saying that we are identifying with the people of the community we are saying that we are here with you and we are hoping for reconciliation between the supporters and the parties that have been hurt," the Rev. Mr. Dick told The Gleaner.

For their part, the candidates have committed themselves to maintaining the peace.

"It was agreed at the meeting (with the Minister's Fraternal) that jointly all four candidates would walk the troubled sections of the community and what you see is exactly what's happening," Mr. Smith said. He noted that while only two sections of the community were affected by the violence which had erupted in the last three weeks, "the entire Maverley is nervous".

Ms Wilson sought to put a different spin on the developments. "This conflict did not just start since the election: it has been ongoing for over two years," she said. She stressed that it did not start out as a political conflict but rather between men from different parts of the community. She said some of those involved were incarcerated but were recently released on bail "and then it started again". The PNP candidate expressed regret that Carl Campbell, a JLP supporter and a popular footballer was killed. He was shot dead on October 4. According to Ms Wilson, he was not involved in the ongoing feud.

Mr. Champaigne said he hoped the walk would serve to "defuse the tension and bring about some form of peace and tranquillity". His reports were that the conflict was politically-motivated. He said his party was committed to practising a "different kind of politics".

For her part, Dr. Higgins blamed the way politics is practised in the country for the upsurge in violence in Maverley. "I'm proposing that this walk will make a statement both to the persons who are hurting and those who have engaged in it," she said.

The small group of walkers made several stops in the community on Friday. At various points they spoke with residents and prayed for peace. Members of the group also prayed with some of the victims who are still nursing injuries. One of the most touching moments was a stop at a yard along Clarion Road where Mr. Campbell collapsed and died after he was shot by his assailants.

Last Wednesday the members of the Christiana Ministers' Fraternal met with the two political candidates for Manchester North East Audley Shaw of the JLP and Dorothy Miller of the PNP. Both Mrs Miller and Mr. Shaw reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful elections. They promised that their campaigns would deal with issues and not personalities. The two promised to redouble their efforts to deter their supporters who would want to introduce violence into their campaigns.

Today is the last day for campaigning ahead of Wednesday's election.