KINGSTON: After weeks of campaigning, Andrew Holness will retain his position as leader of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Shortly after the polls closed on Sunday, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) declared that Holness held onto the reigns of the party, capturing 2,704 votes to Audley Shaw’s 2,012.
In August, Shaw, a longstanding member of the party as well as a deputy leader, announced his intention to challenge Holness, a former prime minister, for the leadership of the party and embarked on an island-wide consultation.
In September, Shaw officially announced his candidacy, citing the “lack of assertiveness of the Jamaica Labour Party in keeping the present government accountable, and further, in our inability to present ourselves as a viable government in waiting”.
Following the outcome of Sunday’s poll, Shaw conceded defeat and promised to help rebuild the party.
“I want to congratulate the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Mr. Andrew Holness,” said Shaw. “We have been re-energized and we are showing to all of Jamaica that we are a democratic Jamaica Labour Party. I am willing and ready to join with you, to build back the Jamaica Labour Party to bring back love to the Jamaica Labour Party.”
Holness said his victory is one that should send a signal to the ruling People’s National Party (PNP).
“Let this be a signal to the PNP that the Jamaica Labour Party is rebuilding, that the Jamaica Labour Party is renewing itself…that the Jamaica Labour Party is preparing to be the next government of Jamaica,” he said. “Unity starts with the leader and this leader commits to you that I will do everything within my power to unite the party.”
The leadership race in the 70-year old party was held almost two years after the JLP’s defeat in the December 2011 general election. The loss resulted in some party members blaming Holness.
Holness took over the leadership of the JLP and became prime minister after Bruce Golding resigned in the wake of the controversy that surrounded the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the United States on drug and gun running charges.