Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Seaga calls for talks with PM

Jamaica Gleaner
Wednesday, October 23, 2002


THE LEADER of the Opposition, Edward Seaga, has proposed a summit between himself and Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at Vale Royal to discuss a reduction of political tensions and the establishment of a stable bipartisan relationship for the good of the nation.

Mr. Seaga, in a letter to Mr. Patterson yesterday which followed a meeting of the party at its Belmont Road headquarters in Kingston, also set out four positions which he said the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was proposing to stabilise political relations required for the healing process.

The four points proposed by the JLP are:

An independent Governor- General able to hold the scale of partisan interests in balance in the critical areas of national life.

An independent Police Services Commission to remove politics from the police force and create a force better able to fight crime on a non-partisan basis. Mr. Seaga noted that this position was already agreed at the previous Vale Royal summit, but was never implemented.

At least monthly meetings of the Appropriations and Internal Affairs Committees of the House of Representatives, each chaired by an Opposition member, to enable the Opposition to have meaningful discussions to query allocations and expenditure of funds in the Budget and to get regular monthly reports on the operations of the security forces. Likewise, the Ethics Committee of Parliament should be chaired by an Opposition member.

The Contractor-General to approve all contracts over an agreed



figure to eliminate corruption in the award and execution of contracts. Which, the letter described as, "the most prevalent area of political corruption".

In the letter, Mr. Seaga pointed to the current margin of seats in the House of Representatives which he said was, "the closest in decades", as well as the need for the country to pursue a path allowing for contrasting political positions without tribalistic excesses.

"I believe it to be true that Jamaicans urgently wish to see the country pursue a path which allows for contrasting political positions to be taken without the excesses of tribalist political divisions. The time is now most opportune to pursue such a path," Mr. Seaga said.

"To this end, I propose a summit meeting of leadership of Government and Opposition at Vale Royal, as you convened in the past, to discuss critical concerns which need to be addressed to reduce specific political tension points in order to establish a stable bipartisan relationship for the good of the nation."

Prime Minister Patterson, in his acceptance speech on October 16, extended the hand of friendship to all those in the political life of the country.

"I invite them to work with us to build a better Jamaica," he said.

In an earlier interview yesterday, he said his first order of business would be to "make sure that the country settles".

"We have just been through a campaign. There has been some violence. We have to do everything to defuse the tension, whether it be political or otherwise," Mr. Patterson said.

"I believe, as Prime Minister, I have a special responsibility to call on the nation to return to normality and hopefully every single well-thinking Jamaican will heed the call," he said.