Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Historic swearing-in - Patterson's record third term as PM to be validated.
First allegiance to the Jamaican people, using the new oath

By Lynford Simpson, Staff Reporter
Jamaica Gleaner
Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Patterson celebrates with supporters after his party won a fourth term in office in last week's general election. - File

P.J. PATTERSON, PRESIDENT of the People's National Party (PNP), will today officially be sworn in as Prime Minister for a record third consecutive term.

The Prime Minister is expected to later name his new Cabinet and Mrs. Maxine Henry-Wilson and Dr. Paul Robertson are expected to return, having been pulled from the Executive to head the PNP's re-election campaign.

The swearing-in ceremony, which will be conducted by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke, will take place at 5:00 p.m. at the recently-opened Emancipation Park, New Kingston.

This comes in the wake of the PNP securing an historic fourth term as Government after last Wednesday's general election, the 14th since 1944.

Thirty-four of the 60 seats in the House of Representatives were won by the PNP, eight more than the 26 that were won by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The standings are based on the official count of ballots which was completed yesterday by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ).

The preliminary count had given the PNP 35 seats to the JLP 25 but the St. Ann North West seat, which was initially declared for Arnold Bertram, former Local Government Minister, was subsequently awarded to the JLP's Verna Parchment after the final count. She polled 7,507 votes to Mr. Bertram's 7,338, a victory margin of 169.

Having piloted a Bill in the House of Representatives in August to change the Oaths of Allegiance politicians and judges swear to The Queen, Mr. Patterson will be the first Prime Minister to swear allegiance to the Jamaican people and to the Jamaican Constitution.

"It is the first occasion on which the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Cabinet, when appointed, will be taking the Oath of Allegiance to be faithful to the Constitution of Jamaica and to be loyal in the discharge of their duties to the people of Jamaica," the Prime Minister said at a press briefing last Thursday.

His first order of business after his swearing-in today will be to appoint a new Cabinet. Among those called by the Prime Minister yesterday for initial discussions were Phillip Paulwell, Industry, Commerce and Technology Minister in the last administration, and Aloun N'Dombet Assamba, Minister of State in the said Ministry, according to Gleaner sources.

"With three Ministers of Government losing their seats in the just concluded election, Mrs. Assamba could be promoted to full Minister," a source told The Gleaner. This would see three women in the Cabinet at the same time as Portia Simpson Miller will be retained with a likely change in her portfolio responsibilities; she was Tourism and Sport Minister last time around; and Maxine Henry-Wilson will be rewarded for her work in securing a fourth term for the PNP. Reports are that she will go to the Ministry of Education which is being vacated by Senator Burchell Whiteman.

Said the source: "Dr. Paul Robertson, who along with Mrs. Henry-Wilson gave up ministerial positions in September last year to concentrate on returning the party to power, will be rewarded with a Cabinet position. Much of the old guard will remain the same."

Meanwhile, the Accountant-General's Department is today at least $174,000 richer as 58 of the 176 candidates who contested last Wednesday's general election failed to get enough votes and so lost the $3,000 deposit they each made on Nomination Day.

In order to be nominated for the election, each candidate had to make a deposit of $3,000 at the Nomination Centre to the Returning Officer for the constituency. The deposit is later turned over to the Accountant-General. On election day, candidates who get less than 12.5 per cent of the votes polled in their constituency lose the $3,000 deposit.

None of the 60 candidates who contested the election on behalf of the PNP lost their deposit. However, two Opposition candidates, Garnett Reid, who was badly beaten by Mrs. Simpson Miller in St. Andrew South Western, and Dennis Messias, who was crushed by Dr. Omar Davies in St. Andrew Southern, are each $3,000 poorer.

Mr. Reid polled 618 votes or 5.9 per cent of the 10,483 votes cast in the constituency. Mrs. Simpson Miller received 9,717 votes or 92.7 per cent of the votes cast.

For his part, Mr. Messias, who was losing to Dr. Davies for the second time, polled 1,220 votes or 8.9 per cent of the 13,564 ballots cast in the constituency. Dr. Davis received 12,225 or 90.13 per cent.

Among the big names losing their deposits were Hyacinth Bennett, President of the National Democratic Movement (NDM), Antonnette Haughton-Cardenas, President of the United People's Party (UPP), and the Rev. Al Miller, Chairman of the New Jamaica Alliance. The trio failed to make an impression. Mrs. Bennett was whipped by the JLP's Andrew Gallimore in St. Andrew West Rural, while Mrs. Haughton-Cardenas was no match for Dr. Morris Guy of the PNP in St. Mary Central. Rev. Miller faltered badly against the JLP's Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett in St. Andrew Eastern.